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IASB Gives Awards for School Board News Coverage
June 16, 2014

Sixteen newspapers received awards in the annual Robert M. Cole Awards competition for 2014, including first-place winners in five divisions, based on size of newspaper circulation.

The Cole Awards are sponsored by the Illinois Association of School Boards and conducted by the Illinois Press Association. There were 19 entries in this, the 34th year for the Cole Awards program.

First-place award winners were: Belleville News-Democrat, large daily division; Effingham Daily News, mid-size daily division; The Doings, Hinsdale, large weekly division; Kendall County Record, Yorkville, mid-size weekly division; and Coal City Courant, small weekly division.

Here is a list of reporters, subjects and judges’ comments for each of the first place awards:

  • Jamie Forsythe, Belleville News-Democrat , on technology in education: “This series of articles does a good job of telling the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the decision to expand technology in the classroom.
  • Bill Grimes , Effingham Daily News , on school cuts: “What elevates this coverage about one district’s financial plight is the effort to explain what could happen, and why, and the interaction between the community and school board throughout the process.”
  • Kimberly Fornek, Chuck Fieldman , The Doings, Hinsdale, on general school board coverage: “The best.”
  • Kathy Farren , Kendall County Record , Yorkville, on a number of different board issues: “Good coverage…[and] comments from board members earns this entry top spot.”
  • Ann Gill , Coal City Courant, on general school board coverage: “Ann Gill has a way of explaining complex school issues that boards face so that they can be understood by community members.”

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. Entries are judged on their contribution to public understanding of local school governance and their support for effective dialogue that helps the community and school board define major public policy issues.

The other winners and their awards included:

  • Large dailies: The State Journal-Register, Springfield, second place; The Pantagraph, Bloomington, third place; Belleville News-Democrat, honorable mention
  • Mid-size dailies: Sauk Valley Media, Sterling, second place; The Herald-Whig, Quincy, third place; LaSalle News Tribune, honorable mention
  • Large weeklies: Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, second place
  • Mid-size weeklies: The Ledger-Sentinel, Oswego, second place; Mason County Democrat, Havana, third place;
  • Small weeklies: Paxton Record, second place; Woodford County Journal, Eureka, third place; Forest Park Review, honorable mention

Winners were announced Friday, June 13, at the annual convention of the Illinois Press Association in Springfield. Gary Adkins, IASB director/communications, handed out the awards.

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