2018 Page One Awards in Newspaper Journalism


MNSPJ congratulates all the winners recognized Thursday night at the annual Page One Awards!  Here’s a list of winners for excellence in newspaper journalism.


Spot News  Newspaper  – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Paul Walsh, Libor Jany, Miguel Otarola, Star Tribune

“Minnehaha Academy Explosion”


Judge’s comment

“Great reporting. The reporters do a nice job putting the reader at the scene of what happened and adding key context — giving a face to the victims and exploring the history of gas leaks in the state. It’s a nice package. The photos are also gripping.


Second Place, Neal Justin, Star Tribune

“Scandal Hits Home”

Third Place, Kristen Leigh Painter, Kavita Kumar, Nicole Norfleet, Star Tribune

“Macy’s sells landmark home of Minneapolis retail”


Meeting/Planned news event  Newspaper – LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Nate Gotlieb, Southwest Journal

“School Board votes to rectify ‘wrongful firings’ of seven employees”


Judge’s comment

“This piece clearly meets journalistic standards. The lede clearly and efficiently explains what the story is about. There are multiple sources and the board vote is explained in detail.”


Meeting/Planned news event  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Staff Star Tribune         

“Franken resigns”


Judge’s comment

 “Well done by the staff of the Star Tribune. The event was covered from multiple angles, with each story being very clear and consistent. Sourcing was phenomenal.”


Second Place, Shannon Prather, Star Tribune

“New St. Paul shelter offer paths out of homelessness”

Third Place, Chris Tomasson, St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Tom Brady leads Patriots to fifth Super Bowl win as Falcons collapse”


Feature  Newspaper  – LESS than 50,000+ circulation

First Place, John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune    

“She taught me how to walk”


Judge’s comment

 “Lovely writing. Well-sourced story. Full of great scenes.”


Second Place, Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune

“My life mattered”

Third Place, Zac Farber, Minnesota Lawyer

“Politics of the Past: Minnesota’s “Wild Woman” charged with impersonating a man in 1858”


Feature  Newspaper  – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Mila Koumpilova, Star Tribune         

“Mohamed in the middle”


Judge’s comment

 “Wonderful storytelling. Puts a face on a young immigrant trying to navigate his way to college.”


Second Place, Susan Du, City Pages

“An underground club is raided, and Minneapolis must face the times”

Third Place, S. M. Chavey, Pioneer Press

“After a fall, Twin Cities woman forgot her entire life”


Enterprise/In-Depth (Single story)  Newspaper – LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Mark Fischenich, Mankato Free Press

“A Blast Gone Bad”


Judge’s comment

 “Great in-depth reporting that tells a really interesting story and does a solid job explaining what happened.”


Second Place, Brian Johnson, Finance & Commerce

“Investors cut back on affordable-housing tax credits”

Third Place, Melinda Lavine, Duluth News Tribune

“You’re not a fraud”


Enterprise/In-Depth (Single story)  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

“A new reformation”


Judge’s comment

 “This could have been a mundane story–500 years since Martin Luther made religious history. Instead, the reader is taken to Europe to see a pilgrimage of locals seeing where it all happened. Very interesting and entertaining read.”


Second Place, Tad Vezner, Pioneer Press

“Businesses facing ADA lawsuits”

Third Place, Pam Louwagie, Star Tribune

“Trying to escape shadow of dread”


Enterprise/In-Depth (Series)  Newspaper – LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Business Journals’ local and national staff, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

“The Amazon Effect: How taxpayers are funding disruption of the U.S. economy”


Judge’s comment

“Amazon offers its customers convenience but at what cost? This fascinating, well researched piece answers that question and it is nothing short of an eye opener.”


Second Place, Dylan Thomas, Michelle Bruch, Eric Best, Nate Gotlieb, Southwest Journal

“Making Change”

 Third Place, Mike Longaecker, Michelle Wirth, RiverTown Multimedia

“Public Safety Magnet”


Enterprise/In-Depth (Series)  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Chris Serres, David Joles, Star Tribune

“Left to Suffer”


Judge’s comment

“Left to Suffer” stood head-and-shoulders above the competition. The writing was excellent, clear and focused without being “writerly.” Reporter Chris Seres fully detailed the abuse and its impact, but this sensitive subject matter was never sensationalized, which made it all the more compelling. Stories seamlessly wove the broader systemic failures into the personal stories. David Joles photos were compelling, and the decision to make them black-and-white only emphasized their power. The interactive graphic in the Grayce Braaten case was stunning, and persuading David DeLong to speak was a true “get”. Finally, change- the Heritage House licenses- was triggered by the stories’ findings even before the story published, evidence of having unearthed irrefutable findings. An important story, and the clear category winner.”


Second Place, Kristen Leigh Painter, Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

“The Future of Food”

Third Place, MaryJo Webster, Anthony Lonetree, Beena Raghavendran, Beatrice Dupuy, Star Tribune

“Students in Flight”


Investigative  Newspaper – LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Jana Peterson, Pine Journal

“Police chief suspended”


Judge’s comment

“This is a wonderful example of community journalism — closely following the actions of a public body, challenging that body when it violates open meetings laws, giving context and history to problems with the police department, and following up the resolution with a deep dive into documents underlying the story. The town of Cloquet is obviously well-served by its newspaper.”



Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation  

First Place, Jennifer Bjorhus, MaryJo Webster, Star Tribune

“Shielded by the Badge”


Judge’s comment

“Journalism at its finest. This powerful data reporting exposed how hundreds of Minnesota law enforcement officers kept their badges despite convictions for violent criminal offenses. The four-part series reveals a state licensing system that is failing the public. Well done!”


Second Place, Susan Du, City Pages

“From wedding to body bag in 12 hours — what happened to Elisa Gomez?”


Business Story  Newspaper — LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Nicholas Halter, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal      

“Where have you gone Mr. Holmes?”


Judge’s comment

 “A well-reported profile that was hard to put down. The story really brought out the mystery behind Mr. Homes and his real estate business.”


Second Place, Katharine Grayson, Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal        

“Ready for a race?” 

Third Place, Matt Johnson, Finance & Commerce

“Perking up an old coffee factory in the North Loop”


Business Story  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Jeff Meitrodt, Star Tribune

“Cost of affair, family rift measured in millions”


Judge’s comment

 “This is what business journalism is all about. The reporter peels back the curtain on allegations of misspending by a chief executive at one of Minnesota’s largest privately owned companies and how it has torn the family business apart.”


Second Place, Susan Du, City Pages

“Reefer Riches: What Minnesota could learn about recreational marijuana”

Third Place, Christopher Magan, Pioneer Press  

“Liquor’s Sunday shift”


Sports News Story  Newspaper – LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press

“Contract shows MSU’s commitment to Hastings”


Judge’s comment

 “Fantastic. The reporter used quotes from the sports coach and the president of the university, two very important sources. There’s also a utilization of a public information request. which heavily benefits the story. The combination of data and sourcing combines for an interesting, informational news piece.”


Sports News Story  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation  

First Place, Heather Rule, Star Tribune

“Gophers men’s hockey team spreads the wealth in victory over Harvard”


Judge’s comment

 “This one stood apart from the rest because, simply, it was a news story. This story has detail, quotations from multiple sources, and gets to the point from the get-go.”


Second Place, Chris Tomasson, St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Ex-Viking Mike Harris upbeat despite congenital brain condition forcing retirement”


Sports Feature Story  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Chris Tomasson, St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Latavius Murray: Late best friend ‘will be looking down’ when he takes field for the Vikings”


Judge’s comment

 “A very captivating piece. The lede drew me in and the storytelling had plenty of verve. The quotes tell me that the writer knew to ask the right questions.”


Second Place, Andy Greder, St. Paul Pioneer Press

“It took a village to change the life of Gophers running back Shannon Brooks”


Arts & Entertainment Story  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Sarah Horner, Pioneer Press

“Drug-abuse expert knows how to make meth, and, evidently, meatloaf”


Judge’s comment

 “In “A Way of Thinking ‘Outside the Pan,'” Sarah Horner takes us inside Carol Falkowski’s kitchen to watch the former drug-abuse expert sculpt faces out of meatloaf. It’s as ridiculous and hilarious as you’d expect because of Horner’s attention to detail. Horner steers the reader through this cooking adventure masterfully.”


Second Place, Erica Rivera, City Pages

“Man of constant sorrow: Charlie Parr’s quiet battle to stay alive”

Third Place, Susan Du, City Pages

“One Minneapolis lawyer’s neo-Nazi record label, and the fight to shut it down”


Arts Criticism/Reviews  Newspaper – LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Dylan Thomas, Southwest Journal

Art Beat


Judge’s comment

 “This eloquent piece captures the essence of the artist’s work and their goal of delivering an impactful statement on the dangers of plastic in the environment. Well done!”


Arts Criticism/Reviews

Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Keith Harris, City Pages

“Taylor Swift would very much like to exclude us from her narrative”


Judge’s comment

 “Thoughtful article and very fun to read. He does a great job analyzing both Swift and West in a way that was insightful.”


Second Place, Laurie Hertzel, Star Tribune

Third Place, Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune


Column  Newspaper – LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune

“In the kitchen: We found solace, laughter, turkey rollups where the food was”


Judge’s comment

 “Lovely descriptive writing and a great reminder that the best food writing is often about so much more than food.”


Second Place, Tim Krohn, Mankato Free Press

“Some good shepherds still around”

Third Place, Robb Murray, Mankato Free Press

“Batter Up: The swing that supercharged a summer”


Column  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Jon Tevlin, Star Tribune

“Giant of Senate is now its ghost”


Judge’s comment

 “Tevlin’s thoughtful piece on Franken’s tarnished political career simultaneously rings the alarm on using social media as the sole platform for revealing sexual harassment allegations. Well done!”


Second Place, Mike Mullen, City Pages

“Capitol Crimes: Minnesota’s ‘new normal’ is a mess”

Third Place, Scott Gillespie, Star Tribune

“The trains and buses that bind”


Editorial  Newspaper – LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Brian Hunhoff, Yankton County Observer

“Democracy dies behind closed statehouse doors”


Judge’s comment

“Brian Hunhoff’s editorial clearly and compelling lays out what’s at stake when state lawmakers’ insist on secrecy. It hits all the right notes, illustrating what can go on behind closed doors, such as decisions on Medicaid and teachers’ pay.”


Second Place, Chuck Frederick, Duluth News Tribune

“Ending Sex Trafficking”

Third Place, Joe Spear, Mankato Free Press

“Quarry Blast Needs Robust Investigation”


Editorial  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Editorial Board, Star Tribune

“Downtown’s Dilemma”


Judge’s comment

“This is carefully considered editorial, and clearly deserving of this year’s first-place award in the category. It informs as well as opines, and appears to be the product of research and reporting, instead of merely regurgitating what was already in the news and slapping an opinion on it”


Second Place, Patricia Effenberger, Pioneer Press

“Beneath the turmoil: heart and civic muscle”


Graphics/Art and Illustration  Newspaper LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Ben Ramsden, Steve Thomas, Dirk DeYoung, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal   

“One of Minnesota’s greatest champions”          


Judge’s comment

 “It’s not easy making old white businessmen into compelling lead art. It’s also not easy to make business news – as important as it is – clean and clear looking. Here’s how you do that, if anyone else is curious.”


Graphics/Art and Illustration  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Emily Utne, City Pages

“Picked to Click 2017”


Judge’s comment

 “The page layout is a clean balance of skilled typography, original photography, and effective overall layout. The design is fairly minimalist, allowing the graphics present to shine without challenging other elements on the page.”


Second Place, Brandon Ferrill, Mark Boswell, Josh Penrod, Derek Simmons, Star Tribune

“Executive Compensation Report”

Third Place, Chrissy Ashack, Star Tribune

“The hippies were right”


Page Design  Newspaper – LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Ben Ramsden, Nick Halter, Dirk DeYoung, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

“The X Games”

Second Place, Valerie Moe, Southwest Journal

“Diners’ delight”

Third Place, Casey Selix, David Bohlander, Finance & Commerce        

“Restoring the Glory”


Page Design  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Derek Simmons, Greg Mees, Ross Bruggink, Star Tribune

“Celebrating Minnesota Culture”

Second Place, Greg Mees, Deb Pastner, Josh       Penrod, Derek Simmons, Star Tribune

“The Inauguration of Donald Trump      


Headlines  Newspaper – LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Casey Selix, Finance & Commerce

“Sink or swim in amenities race,” “Sparkle fading for “starchitects,” “Another tall order for Edina”


Judge’s comment

 “The headlines are concise and to the point. They’re straight ahead and informative. The play on words are clever but not distractingly so, and invite the reader in without overplayed tease”


Second Place, Jeff Sjerven, Finance & Commerce

“Deconstructing buildings, reconstructing lives; Mississippi has inside lane for auto plant”

Third Place, Brian Hunhoff, Yankton County Observer

“Three cheers to Tabor triplets as graduation nears; Opponents flunk Medicaid math; Yankton’s vital signs past and present”


Headlines  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Staff, Star Tribune


Judge’s comment

 “The three headlines in this entry from the Star Tribune were pithy, informative and intriguing without being “too cute.” The writers and editors were clearly in synch with the desk on these stories – no small accomplishment for any staff. Congratulations for that, and for these fine headlines!”


Second Place, Catherine Preus, Star Tribune       

Third Place, Kevin Cusick, St. Paul Pioneer Press


Best Issue  Newspaper – LESS than 50,000 circulation

First Place, Newsroom staff Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

August 18, 2017 Edition


Judge’s comment

 “This is more than just a slick design and a record of business developments. The journalism here matters, and not just to the stereotypical business reader.”


Second Place, Newsroom staff, Mankato Free Press

Jan. 29, 2017 edition

Third Place, Kristal Leebrick, Stephen Parker, Park Bugle

November 2017


Best issue  Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Star Tribune staff


Judge’s comment

“In an era where it’s not impossible to imagine Sunday newspapers disappearing just as Sunday magazines did, the Star Tribune does a solid job cover to cover keeping itself relevant – and giving their readers many reasons to get newsprint on their hands on the Lord’s Day, instead of tapping on their phone.”


Star Tribune Best Issue 091717

Second Place, Star Tribune staff

Star Tribune Best Issue 120817