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Robert M. Cole awards given for school board news coverage
June 18, 2012

Twenty newspapers received awards in the annual Robert M. Cole Awards competition for 2012, including the Peoria Journal Star, 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. This is the 32 nd year for the Cole Awards program.

Other first-place Cole Award winners were: Coal City Courant , small weekly division; The Bugle Newspapers, Plainfield, mid-size weekly division; Pioneer Press, Glenview, large weekly division; Daily Chronicle, DeKalb, small daily division; and Quincy Herald-Whig, mid-size daily division.

Multiple award winning newspapers included Pioneer Press, which also garnered third place in its division. The Northwest Herald, Crystal Lake, had three stories that tied for second place in the mid-size daily division. And the Morris Daily Herald earned a third place and honorable mention in the small daily division.

Winning papers' reporters, school districts covered, and judges’ comments were:

  • Dave Haney , Peoria Journal Star, Peoria SD 150: “Excellent leads, tight writing and good use of graphics give this entry first place.”
  • David Adam , Quincy Herald-Whig, Quincy SD 172: “Excellent continued coverage of board distress in Quincy. Good use of the timeline.”
  • Andrew Mitchell , Daily Chronicle , DeKalb, DeKalb CUSD 428: “Excellent tie-ins for all stories to board actions and an example of how to make a board meeting story more than a rehash of approving an agenda item.”
  • Karen Berkowitz , Pioneer Press , Glenview: “Excellent lead article on whether its grads are prepared when they leave area schools propelled this to the top. Good quotes from school board members in other articles that show them acting in proper board roles.”
  • Laura Katauskas , The Bugle Newspapers, Plainfield, Valley View CUSD 365U: “Strong story on school board’s new grading policy and good board member quotes. Also good coverage of school board candidate forum.”
  • Ann Gill , Coal City Courant: “This entry stood out from the others for its excellent leads, well-written copy and information that was more than what comes out of a school board meeting.”

Named in memory of the first full-time 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.

Winners were announced Friday, June 15, at the annual convention of the Illinois Press Association in Springfield. Linda Dawson, IASB director/editorial services, handed out the awards.

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