Cole Award Recipients Announced

  • Date Posted
    May 9, 2020
  • Category
Newspapers and their reporters have been honored with the 2020 Robert M. Cole Award for school board coverage in 2019, sponsored by the Illinois Association of School Boards and presented in the Illinois Press Association’s annual “Best of the Press” contest.

In the daily newspaper category, Lyndsay Jones of the Champaign News-Gazette took first place for a portfolio of stories demonstrating the various roles a school board plays in the community. The winning entry included thoughtfully crafted and informative pieces on the local impact of the teacher shortage and the use of purchasing cards.

Second place in the daily newspaper category also went to the News-Gazette. Reporter Noelle McGee’s diverse collection of stories included work detailing the board's role in forming a co-op high school, taking a summer break from tech, and parking fees.

In the non-daily newspaper category, Shea Lazansky of the Oswego Ledger via Shaw Media took first place in a competitive field for depth, enterprise, and connecting the community to the board's work. Lazansky’s entry included detailed referendum coverage, fully informing readers.

Second place among the non-daily newspapers went to Hillary Dickerson of the Galena Gazette for well-reported enterprise work demonstrating fair coverage and detailed board meeting reporting during an administrative turnover.

The Robert M. Cole Award, named for the first full-time executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards, is presented annually and recognizes outstanding coverage of education issues that emphasize the community’s connection with its local public school district. Judges evaluate entries for contribution to public understanding of local school governance and support for effective dialogue that helps the community and school board define major public policy issues. Judging criteria include enterprise, depth of reporting, and clarity of writing.

The Cole Award and the Press Association’s many editorial awards are presented at the IPA’s annual conference each spring; that event has been postponed until October. The Illinois Press Association is one of the largest state press organizations in the country. It provides professional education, government access, and newspaper advertising promotion to members, as well as the Newspapers in Education and other literacy programs.