The Creston News Advertiser won four Division I awards Thursday in the annual Iowa Newspaper Association contest. Division I is for newspapers with a circulation under 10,000.
The CNA’s five-part series, consisting of more than 45 stories – “Our Friends and Neighbors,’' received a first place award in the Dailies Division I, Best Series category. The series, published March 23-27, was the culmination of months of work by writers Sarah Scull, Regina Smith, Dustin Maeder and Caleb Nelson, as they sought to introduce the community to people they might not otherwise know or know of.
“When developing a theme for what we call our ‘Progress Edition’ we publish at the end of each March, I was inspired after watching ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,’ a biopic based on the life of Fred Rogers,” said Scull. “We were living in a very contentious time socially, and I felt we all needed a little dose of humanity. What better way than to tell the stories of people living among us who may appear to be different, but have shared dreams, shared experiences, or surprising and interesting facts about them? The series resonated deeply with our readers, and clearly, the INA judges, as well. I’m very proud.”
In the “Community Leadership” category, Scull took first place in Dailies Division I for the coverage of the summer mural project spearheaded by Bailey Fry Schnormeier.
“Many other cities in Iowa feature public murals, but I have not heard of any community that has pulled off the installation of this many murals within such a short amount of time,” said Scull. “Bailey’s work transcends herself as an artist and a teacher. The project has inspired some students to pursue creative career paths and investors to drop money in our uptown. Most importantly, the project included students who are struggling. This project gave them a sense of purpose and something to be proud to be a part of.”
For Best Feature Photo in the Dailies Division I category, Scull took first place for a photo of the American flag with a backdrop of fireworks from a private Fourth of July show hosted by Top Notch Firework owners Brandon and MaKenzi Vonk at their home south of Highway 34.
Despite a furlough for the majority of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senior Feature Writer Larry Peterson continued to provide his bi-monthly column, ‘Straight Shots,’ which took second place in the Master Columnist, Dailies Division I. First place went to Elijah Helton of the Iowa City Daily Iowan and third place was awarded to Kelby Wingert of the Fort Dodge Messenger.
“Pretty cool to have connections to all three newspapers involved in the placings for columnist in my final Iowa Newspaper Association contest,” Peterson wrote on Facebook.
Peterson said he started his professional career at the Fort Dodge Messenger as an 18-year-old part-time kid in 1975.
“Two years later I wrote for the the Daily Iowan. And for 35 years the News Advertiser was my home,” he added.
In one column, Peterson’s advice to “Billy the Ballplayer” resonated with judges. The column is about Peterson’s observation of a young boy tossing a baseball around by himself on the Division Street field during the early stages of the COVID quarantine.
Another column Peterson showcased to the INA judges was about the 25th anniversary of the craziest day of his career as he captured the photo and story of a Union County Jail escapee in Atlantic on his way to district wrestling in 1995. His third entry was about the passing of his friend Bill Taylor.
“I am really proud of the work we do, but it really does take the whole community to produce it,” said Scull. “Community journalism isn’t about us, it’s about you.”