Big Horn County News gains MNA award for General Excellence

Thursday, June 21, 2018

For the first time since 2012, the Big Horn County News has won the Montana Newspaper Association’s award for General Excellence within Division 1 of the Better Newspaper Contest. This division includes all newspapers in the state with weekly circulations of 1,250 papers or fewer.

In all, the Big Horn County News took home awards in 13 of 36 total categories during the MNA’s 133rd Annual Convention, held June 15-16 at the Big Horn Resort in Billings. Not counting the General Excellence Award, it won seven awards for first, second and third place – a total of 21. Results are tallied based on content from 2017.

The News swept all three places in two categories: Best Sports Story, and Best Sports Page Layout and Design.

The first-place sports page was designed by former office manager Barb Eben for the Oct. 26, 2017 issue, published the week after Hardin High School’s girls took back-to-back Class A state championships in cross-country. Decorating the top of the page is a photo by Janet Erickson showing the runners involved celebrating by jumping in the air.

The first-place sports story, written for March 9, 2017 by Editor Andrew Turck, is entitled “So close,” and details the Hardin High School girls’ basketball team and their second-place finish at state. One of the few comments offered to the News by Oregon journalists, who judged the contest, stated the article was “Well done,” though the judge specified that – unlike what was written in the piece – the word “team” is a singular noun.

Of the available responses in other categories, judges praised the Big Horn County News for the paper’s first and second-place victories in the category of Best Page Layout and Design. Taking first was the Aug. 24, 2017 page for Crow Fair of that year – designed by Publisher Jim Eshleman – which showed photos of the powwows, rodeos and parades that characterize the event. According to judges, the page was colorful and depicted a “beautiful ‘photo album’ of the fair.” Local photographer Tony Manolis assisted Eshleman and Turck in creating the page.

Also of note, the late William Richard “Dick” Crockford II – who died of a heart attack on Feb. 8 – was inducted into the Montana Newspaper Hall of Fame during the event. Known for his love of small-town life and belief in the importance of local newspapers, as stated in his obituary, Crockford served for five years as editor and publisher of the Big Horn County News. He moved on to become publisher for the Dillon Tribune by 2007 and a 35-year member of MNA.

Big Horn County News awards

First place:

Best Sports Story (Andrew Turck for “So Close / Lady Bulldogs battle to second at Class A state tournament in Butte”), Best Education Coverage (Andrew Turck for “Graduation Journey / Tessa Passes goes from high school dropout to LBHC valedictorian”), Best Editorial (Jim Eshleman for “Property tax or highway robbery?”), Best Front Page (Jim Eshleman for an Aug. 24, 2017 issue depicting a partial solar eclipse), Best Page Layout and Design (Jim Eshleman and Andrew Turck for Crow Fair 2017 page), Best Sports Page Layout and Design (Barb Eben for Oct. 26, 2017 layout of School & Activities page) and Best Feature Photo (Andrew Turck for “‘Just break the silence’ / Protesters gather in Crow Agency seeking updates on recent deaths”).

Second place:

Best Sports Story (Jim Eshleman for “Bulldogs skin Panthers 58-21”), Best Education Coverage (Andrew Turck for “One step at a time / Crow Elementary students join UNICEF Kid Power program”), Best Investigative Journalism (Andrew Turck for “Pryor family’s legal battle with FBI returns to Ninth Circuit”), Best Page Layout and Design (Jim Eshleman and Andrew Turck for Little Bighorn Days / Crow Native Days page), Best Sports Page Layout and Design (Jim Eshleman for the “Bite ‘em at State, Bulldogs!” boys’ basketball page), Best Sports Photo (Andrew Turck for Xtreme Day tug-o-war photo) and Best Portrait Photo (Andrew Turck for “Promoting ‘cultural exchange’ / Zulu Prince Sbo travels to Crow Reservation for Native Days celebration”).

Third place:

Best Sports Story (Andrew Turck for “Lady Bulldogs use new players, cut down Laurel in three sets”), Mark Henckel Outdoor Writing Award (Andrew Turck and Jim Eshleman for “Down to a sliver / Solar eclipse passes over Little Bighorn Battlefield during its coast-to-coast tour across the U.S.”), Best Investigative Journalism (Andrew Turck for “Zoned out / Medical marijuana dispensary expelled from Hardin”), Best Sports Page Layout and Design (Jim Eshleman and Andrew Turck for “Lodge Grass Indians Homecoming 2017” page), Best Feature Photo (Andrew Turck for “Pryor activity bash / Monday carnival/masquerade promotes after-school activities”), Best Sponsor Page (Britt Eben for Veterans Day page) and Best Website.

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