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Cole Award Honors School Board News Coverage
June 13, 2011

Winners of the 2011 “Robert M. Cole Award” were announced June 10 at the Illinois Press Association convention in Springfield.

The award is sponsored by the Illinois Association of School Boards and conducted by the IPA to recognize newspapers that do an outstanding job of covering local school boards and emphasize the community's connection with local public school districts.

This is the 30th year that the award, named for IASB’s first full-time executive director, has been presented to Illinois newspapers. Here is the list of first-place winners, including the name of the individual reporter(s), the newspaper and circulation category, and a brief judge’s comment:

  • Cheryl Wolfe — Woodford County Journal , Eureka, (weeklies division A) “Good coverage of several issues, including consolidation and negotiations.”
  • Will Brumleve and Jeremy Werner — Paxton Record (weeklies division B) “This went outside the board room setting to deliver four stories involving more than just the Paxton-Buckley-Loda board of education.”
  • Elena Grimm — Daily Chronicle , DeKalb (dailies division D) “Very good coverage that goes beyond the board room on timely topics.”
  • Holly Wagner — Quincy Herald-Whig (dailies division E) “Excellent series on Quincy schools in crisis with timely and sensitive topics told from the community, administrative and school board perspective.”
  • George Pawlaczyk and Maria Baran — Belleville News-Democrat (dailies division F) “An enterprising and very thorough series on school consultant hirings in East St. Louis SD 189.”

Having received just two entries in this year’s large weekly division, the IPA combined it with the small weekly division, so no award was made in division C in 2011.

All entries for the award were judged on:

  • their contribution to public understanding of local school governance
  • their support for effective dialogue that helps the community and school board define major public policy issues

Also considered were the use of enterprise, depth of reporting and clarity of writing. Members of the IASB communications staff judged the entries.

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