The Chetek Alert earned first-place awards for best newspaper promotion and best headlines in the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation’s Better Newspaper Contest.

The Chetek Alert newspaper is proud to announce its staff has received six awards in the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation’s 2019 Better Newspaper Contest.

This year, both editorial and advertising staff received first-place awards for best headlines and the best newspaper promotion. Other awards were given for breaking news coverage and spot and feature photos. The annual awards were announced Friday, May 15.

Sister newspapers Barron News-Shield and Ladysmith News also received awards. The News-Shield received eight awards, including three first-place awards. Ladysmith News won five, including one first-place award.

“This is the best awards year ever for our newspapers,” said Bell Press president, Jim Bell. “It is gratifying to be recognized for our efforts by our newspaper peers. This is definitely a team effort accomplished in an environment that gets more challenging every year for community newspapers. I thank everyone involved in this effort, particularly our hometown readers without whom, of course, none of this would be possible.”

For the Chetek Alert—which competed in the weekly, small circulation division—a full-page graphic, “The Chetek Alert Subscribers’ Hall of Fame: Polar Vortex,” by Julie LeMoine, Lisa Rhodes, Carl Cooley and Erica Pecunia, earned first place for the best newspaper promotion. The newspaper promotion honored 14 subscribers who came out in minus-29 degree weather to pick up their Chetek Alert.

“Terrific example of turning a problem into an opportunity,” wrote a contest judge. “Great way of connecting and engaging with your readers. For sure, you’ve built lifelong subscribers here. And planted a valuable seed for the next time the world stops—letting people know The Chetek Alert is always open to serve its community (and giving people something to do). Love the certificates you gave out. This warms my heart. Kudos on a great idea, which was very well executed.”

While there were only four submissions for this category, the judge elected to only award the Alert.

“The Chetek Alert entry was head and shoulders above the others—and most deserving of a first-place award,” the judge commented.

The articles “Snow blows if you get the drift,” “Hello from the otter side” and “Another superior feat,” by Cooley and Florczak, earned first place for best headlines. A contest judge commented the otter headline was their favorite.

A second-place award for spot news photos went to “Kids, families have fun sledding in the snow in Cameron,” by Cooley.

“Great shots of the snow being kicked up under the sleds,” a contest judge wrote.

Florczak’s photo, “Deep snow has pheasants feeding along roadways,” took third place in feature photos. A judge complimented the striking photo of the bird’s colorful plumage framed against the snowy background and called it “mesmerizing.”

For the articles, “Tornadoes, winds cause widespread damage,” “Volunteers needed for cleanup days,” a third place award for breaking news went to Cooley.

A judge wrote, “Classic bit of local reporting. Focuses on the facts and the names of places readers will immediately recognize and no doubt care about.”

The photo, “Spring has officially sprung: nature’s alive, well,” earned an honorable mention in the feature photo category for Florczak.

“Working at the newspaper allows us, as a staff, to be creative and seek out ways to connect with our readers, whether they are in Chetek and the surrounding communities, or out of state,” noted Florczak. “It’s always rewarding to be recognized for hard work, but it’s even more satisfying knowing our readers enjoy the product we put out each week.”

Other bell press papers

The Barron News-Shield took first place for its sports section by Mark Bell, Bob Zientara, Todd Roehl and Florczak); ongoing/extended coverage of the Jayme Closs case by Mark Bell, Zientara, Klink and Cooley; and breaking news coverage of July 2019 storms by Mark Bell, Jim Bell, Zientara and Cooley.

Second place was awarded for local outdoor columns by Zientara.

Third place awards were named for the News-Shield’s local sports column by Mark Bell and photo essay on storm coverage by Zientara, Mark Bell, Jim Bell and Lindsey Bell.

Honorable mentions were named for a spot news photo by Jim Bell of the arrest of an armed suspect and ongoing/extended coverage of Chris Kroeze by Zientara.

Ladysmith News earned first place for a spot news photo by Klink of a Holcombe-area house fire.

A second-place award was named for articles by Klink using open records/Freedom of Information Act requests.

A third-place award was named for investigative reporting articles by Klink.

Honorable mentions were awarded for ongoing/extended coverage articles by Klink and Jerilea Hendrick of the Doug Nitek trial and for editorials by Klink.

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