REGIONAL— The Timberjay is the winner of six awards in the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, for stories, editorials, and the newspaper’s website. The newspaper received the awards during the annual Minnesota Newspaper Association convention, held late this past week in Bloomington.
Among the most prestigious of the honors was a first-place award to Marshall Helmberger for Best Investigative Reporting for small weeklies for the newspaper’s story on systematic billing errors and poor customer service by Frontier Communications. “The amount of sources in this story is tremendous,” wrote the judges in comments on Helmberger’s story. “The organization of all that information is where this piece shines through. It’s no surprise that such a story helped get regulators to take a hard look at the situation.”
The story, published in November of 2017, prompted the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to open its own investigation into Frontier, which revealed that the company has allowed its infrastructure in the state to fall into severe disrepair. Decisions by regulators on how to address the situation are pending.
The Timberjay also won a third-place award among all weekly newspapers in the category of Best Editorial Portfolio. The judges called the Timberjay’s editorials “interesting and a joy to read,” and called particular attention to one that raised doubts about the ability of the ISD 2142 Superintendent to serve effectively as superintendent for the St. Louis County as well as for the Mt. Iron-Buhl school district. “To have one superintendent serving two districts is ‘pure fantasy’— well said, well said.”
The Timberjay also won third place among small weeklies for Best Website. It was the third year in a row that the Timberjay has won in the category. “Clean, simple layout with useful navigation and great e-edition link. Interesting ad feature with top corner click-through,” wrote the judges. “Also like the business directory and bookstore as other revenue generators with value for readers.”
Timberjay Tower-Soudan Editor Jodi Summit won a third-place award for small weeklies under the category of Best Social Issues Feature for her story on a visit by a group of former refugees (now mostly citizens) from Somalia and other East African nations, who visited Tower as part of an unofficial cultural exchange visit. Ilhan Omar, who now represents the Minneapolis area in the U.S. Congress, was among those who visited Tower as part of the visit.
The Timberjay also won a second-place award for Best Headline Writing among small weeklies and a third-place award for Best Editorial Page as a Whole.
“As always, we’re pleased for the recognition from those in the industry,” said Timberjay Publisher Marshall Helmberger. “But the thanks we hear everyday from readers who appreciate the kind of journalism we provide is the highest reward for us.”