The West Central Tribune is the winner of nine awards in the annual Minnesota Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest, including one for general excellence.

The awards were presented Jan. 30 during the MNA's annual convention in Brooklyn Park.

The West Central Tribune won first place in sports reporting, use of photography as a whole and business story categories. The Tribune competes in the dailies and dailies under 10,000 circulation categories.

Each year, the Better Newspaper Contest recognizes exceptional work produced by community newspapers in Minnesota. Work produced between September 2018 and August 2019 was eligible for recognition.

West Central Tribune winners include:

First Place

Business story - Carolyn Lange for "Hanging onto hope in Lac qui Parle County," a story about a family from Holland facing immigration issues that threatens their Minnesota dairy farm. The judge said the writer wrote "a very in-the-moment story about a subject that is on the front-burner in the U.S. Well written."

Sports reporting - Tribune sports staff of former sports editor Tom Larson, and sports reporters Joe Brown and Patrick Bernadeau.

Use of photography as a whole - Tribune photographer Erica Dischino, editors and designers. The judges said the Tribune "displayed the strongest overall understanding of good storytelling photojournalism with consistent play throughout the newspaper."

Second Place:

General excellence - Tribune news, sports and design staff. The judges wrote, "the all-local A1 pages are colorful, eye-catching and have interesting design work."

Third Place:

General reporting - Tribune news staff, The judges said "Nice enterprise reporting ... distinguished the West Central Tribune's entry."

Social issues reporting - Carolyn Lange for "Home for the homeless," a story about the Family Promise program that offers shelter in area churches.

Sports feature story - Joe Brown for "Playing for Jenna," a touching story about a Willmar Cardinal athlete who dedicated his year in football to his 13-year-old sister who died of a brain tumor.

Hard news story - Tom Cherveny for "Slow-motion landslide could prove costly for road," a story about a deep underground fissure that has caused state Highway 67 near the Upper Sioux Agency State Park to be ripped apart.

Special Section - Sharon Bomstad and news staff, "Impact on Health Care," a section feature local health care stories.

Area newspaper staffs winning awards include:

  • Forum Communications' creatives team of Dan Wallert, based in Willmar, and Eric Olson of Red Wing, non-dailies 3,001-7,001, first place, self-promotion ad for the Red Wing Republican Eagle,.;

  • Clara City Herald - 1,000 to 1, 500: feature photo, third pace, Billie Jo Rassat, "Clara City gets visited by Jack Frost";
  • Kerhoven Banner, non-dailies up to 1,500 - best advertisement, Ted Almen;
  • Lakes Area Review of New London, non-dailies 3,001-7,000 - advertising excellence first place; Macklin Caruso: human interest story, first place, "From Caravan to Kandiyohi County: Family seeks asylum in Willmar"; feature photo, first place, "Polar Plunge"; feature photo, third place, "Medieval Art"; Brett Blocker, sport story, first place "Local sausage dog to defend reign as top brat"; arts and entertainment story, first place, "As aging takings its toll"; hard news, second place, "As challenges with hemp abound, farmers warn 'grass may not be greener on the other side.' "
  • Litchfield Independent Review, non-dailies 1,501-3,000 - sports story, Brent Schacherer, "Hitting, on the record."
  • Pope County Tribune of Glenwood, non-dailies up to 3,000 - website, first place; news photo, second place, Celeste Rapp, Starbuck Heritage Days; special section, second place, Erica Stoen, Celeste Rapp, Rim Douglass, Erika Andreas and Emma Nyhammer, "Arts and Entertainment"; best magazine, first place, Erica Storen, Tim Douglas, Erika Andreas and Celeste Rapp, "Minnewaska Visitor Guide"; general excellence, third place, Pope County staff.