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Fifteen newspapers win 2006 Cole Awards for school board coverage

Fifteen newspapers received awards in the 26th annual Robert M. Cole Awards competition for 2006, including the Herald News, Joliet, which earned first place in the large daily newspaper category.

The Cole Awards are sponsored by the Illinois Association of School Boards and conducted by the Illinois Press Association to recognize newspapers that are doing an outstanding job of covering local school boards and emphasizing the community's connection with local public school districts.

The Joliet paper was not the only first-place Cole Award winner. The Naperville Sun won first prize in the medium-size daily category, the Marion Daily Republican won first prize in the small daily newspaper category, and the Zephyr, Galesburg, won first prize in the non-daily newspaper category.

The Rockford Register Star earned 2nd place in the large daily newspaper category, followed by The Pantagraph, Bloomington, in 3rd place; and TheHerald News, Joliet, Honorable Mention.

With a second-place finish in 2006, the Rockford paper has now earned more Cole Awards than any other newspaper in the competition's 26-year history, a total of 15 awards.

Other prizes in the mid-size daily newspaper category went to: the Naperville Sun, 2nd place, and The Daily Times, Ottawa, 3rd place.

Second prize in the non-daily category went to the Galena Gazette, and third prize went to the Ledger-Sentinel, Oswego. Honorable mention was awarded to the Orion Gazette.

Winning papers' reporters, stories, and judges' comments are:

  • Catherine Ann Velasco, Herald News, Joliet – Split shift: "Nice job of covering a lot of angles in this story. Good graphics to support the story."
  • Britt Carson, Naperville Sun – District 204 puts hold on boundary public input: "It sounds as if Britt had a few long nights on her hands. Good use of graphics and quotes to help the story."
  • Eric Chaney, Marion Daily Republican – Teachers will be reassigned: "Good job of explaining reaction of teachers, audience members. Photos help the story."
  • Norm Winick, The Zephyr, Galesburg – Parents push to save school: "Lots of solid entries in this special contest, but this rose to the top because of the 'community's connection' with its schools. Good job of covering both the emotions and the number crunching."

Named in memory of the first executive director of IASB, the Robert M. Cole Award recognizes outstanding coverage of education issues that emphasizes the community's connection with its local public school district.

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