Fall River County Herald Publisher Brett Nachtigall and Production Manager Sheryl Grimes hold up four of the 13 total awards that the newspaper garnered this past weekend at the joint South Dakota and North Dakota newspaper convention, held in Medora, N.D. Included in the awards presented to the local newspaper were first places in General Excellence, Sweepstakes and ‘Best of the Dakotas’ in the contest’s Small Weeklies Division. Additional first place awards went to Dick Kettlewell for his “Fall River Rhapsody” photo series, as well as a first for Nachtigall in the Spot News Photo category.
Fall River County Herald sweeps top honors at SDNA/NDNA convention
By Brett Nachtigall
MEDORA, N.D. – After just its first full year of publishing, the Fall River County Herald was not only named the best weekly newspaper of its division in South Dakota, but also in all of the Dakotas, after it was announced the Herald had won the top honor in the two-state combined small weeklies division during the recent SD/ND Newspaper Associations’ annual convention, held in Medora. N.D., May 30 – June 1.
In all, the Fall River County Herald won a total of 13 awards during the convention, highlighted by a sweep of the top-three honors in the division for small weeklies, including first place in the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s (SDNA) award for General Excellence, the overall SDNA Sweepstakes Award, as well as the “Best of the Dakotas” Award amongst all small-sized weekly newspapers in both North and South Dakota. All of the awards presented were based on submitted entries from newspapers published in 2018.
There were a total of five different circulation divisions of awards, including Small Weeklies (under 1,150 circulation), Mid-Sized Weeklies (1,151 – 2,000 circulation), Large Weeklies (over 2,000 circ), Small Dailies (under 10,000 circ) and Large Dailies (more than 10,000 circ).
Despite now featuring a weekly circulation of approximately 1,400, the Herald competed this past year in the Small Weeklies division of the contest due to beginning 2018 with a paid circulation of about half its current number, but circulation has grown significantly since.
Previously known as the Edgemont Herald-Tribune, the publication underwent a name change and redesign to become the Fall River County Herald in December 2017. This new branding of the near-century-old publication also featured an expanded county-wide news coverage area, which included opening a second office location in Hot Springs, in addition to Edgemont.
According to an SDNA press release, the General Excellence Award recognizes a newspaper’s overall quality and commitment to journalism, including reporting, writing, photography, opinion, design and advertising.
“This paper is packed with well-written news and features. Excellent use of photography throughout. Top-quality sports coverage,” stated the judges in the General Excellence category, about the Fall River County Herald.
Second place in the Small Weeklies Division went to the New Era in Parker, followed by the Hamlin County Republican in third place, based in Castlewood.
Winners of General Excellence in the four other divisions included: Freeman Courier (mid-sized weeklies), Reporter and Farmer of Webster (large weeklies), Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan (small dailes), and Argus Leader of Sioux Falls (large dailies).
The Sweepstakes Award was also given to the Fall River County Herald for accumulating the most points in its circulation division, based on individual awards. The points were tallied for awards won in both the news/editorial and advertising portions of the Better Newspapers Contest.
The “Best of the Dakotas” Award also presented to the Fall River County Herald was a separate honor that is presented every two years and only when the two newspaper associations hold their annual conventions jointly. This was SDNA’s 137th annual convention, but only the fourth joint convention with the NDNA.
Winners of the “Best of the Dakotas” for each of the aforementioned circulation divisions were determined by a separate panel of judges from the Missouri Newspaper Association who looked at entries all across the two states. Journalists from Wyoming judged the South Dakota portion of the contest.
In addition to the top-three overall awards won by the Fall River County Herald, the newspaper staff as a whole also earned a pair of first place wins, as well as six second places and two third place awards in the SDNA Better Newspaper Contest.
Following is a listing of each individual honor:
First Place Awards:
• Best Photo Series – Dick Kettlewell for “Fall River Rhapsody.” Judges’ comments: “Wonderful photos that really were stunning. The editing of the photos were spot-on and worked well together.”
• Best Spot Photo – Brett Nachtigall for “Life Flight lands on highway.” Judges’ comments: “Nice shot of a dramatic scene.”
Second Place Awards:
• Best Typography and Design – Staff. Judges’ comments: “Clean, consistent design on front pages and inside in all editions I looked at. Nice use of color. Pages are easy to read and inviting.”
• Best 2x4 Ad – Sheryl Grimes for “Mornin’ Sunshine.” Judges’ comments: “Nice clean design.”
• Best Multi-Ad Section – Brett Nachtigall, Sheryl Grimes & Amber Schumacher for “Miss South Dakota Pageant Special Edition.”
• Best Newspaper Ad Promotion – Brett Nachtigall for “Decision 2018” which was an ad comparing the Fall River County Herald to the Hot Springs Star in an election ballot format. Judges’ comments: “What a great idea! Nicely done.”
• Best General Interest Column – Peggy Sanders for “Range Views.” Judges’ comments: “Wonderfully informative and well-written.”
• Best Special Issue – Staff for “Hot Springs Welcome Magazine.” Judges’ comments: “A well-organized magazine full of great information for tourists and visitors to the area. Nicely designed and organized.”
Third Place Awards:
• Best Feature Story – Amber Schumacher for “Centenarian Caroline Curl.” Judges’ comments: “After reading this story, we feel anyone would want to meet this 104 woman. The story nicely captured her personality. Very strong entry that was not far off from first or second.”
• Best News Story – Karen Yekel and Brett Nachtigall for “Vineyard Fire forces evacuations of city residents.” Judges’ comments: “This is a well reported story that is obviously important to the Hot Springs community.”