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Newspaper receives five statewide awards

February 16, 2011 | 09:17 AM
Appleton — The Lake Geneva Regional News and Resorter hauled in some hardware Friday night at the 157th annual Wisconsin Newspaper Association convention.

The Regional News received four awards, including two firsts, in the 2010 Better Newspaper contest, while the Resorter received one award in the better advertising contest.

Editor Lisa Seiser attended the awards ceremony to accept all five the honors for the newspaper company.

"It was a very special night for the Regional News and Resorter to be named award winners alongside such great newspapers as the Appleton Post Crescent, Green Bay Press Gazette, Wisconsin State Journal and so many more," Seiser said.

"I'm very proud of the awards we've won and it's just the start," Regional News and Resorter General Manager John Halverson said. "Lisa and the other members of the editorial staff produce more and better copy than any other weekly I've seen. Their hard-nosed approach to covering government is something that is too often lacking in newspapers these days. My background was in the editorial end of the business, but when I took this job two years ago, it became obvious pretty quickly that this editorial department didn't need any help from me. They were winners long before the awards started coming."

In the highest circulation weekly division, the Regional News garnered two first places — one for best reporting on local government and the other in the feature category.

Seiser received the top award for her local government coverage of the late 2009 City Council suspensions and other stories and editorials related to the same issue. The judge's comments called the effort, "Great reporting. I appreciated the use of sidebars and multiple stories to show all the angles. This was a fascinating look at how local government works, or in this case doesn't work. Extremely well-written."

Seiser said she is most proud of receiving that award.

"Covering the local governments and news is what we focus on," Seiser said. "To be honored with a first-place for our coverage of such a controversial issue is proof we do a pretty good job at it."

The other first place was in the feature category. Seiser received the top award for her story about Adam Zimmern's U.S. Mailboat delivery experience. Zimmern came to Lake Geneva in September 2009 to tape a segment of his "Bizarre World" show.

The judge's comments stated, "Writer used good visual images with details and brought the reader quickly into the story. Action was well-described. Nice beginning and finish. A good feature." The judge also wrote that "there were so many entries" in this category and also gave out several honorable mentions.

"I thought we would do well in the local government coverage, but features is a tough category. There are so many good features entered into the contest and I'm just thrilled they thought mine was the best," Seiser said.

Those weren't the only awards Seiser received. She also finished third in editorials. Entries required three editorial submissions. The editorials submitted by the Regional News focused on the newspaper's efforts to obtain e-mail documents from city officials and open records issues. The judge stated, "Keep after them. They'd like you to give up and go away, but it seems you realize you're there to represent the public, not public officials."

The other third-place for the Regional News came in an open weekly category Freedom of Information Award. The honor revolves around the newspaper's lawsuit against Alderwoman Mary Jo Fesenmaier requesting e-mails revolving around the Mirbeau and Hummel development proposals. The judge stated, "The nation would be better off if more newspapers showed the commitment of the Regional News."

In the weekly advertising division, the Resorter received a third-place for best multiple advertiser spread for its downtown business centerspread, which involved Resorter Editor Jessica Franzene and advertising representatives Duane Hove and Mike Coolidge. The judge stated, "Clean, simple layout works well. Map is nice and readable and modular ads make the whole spread very clean. It's an inviting piece."

Halverson said the advertising award was an example of "how great design and a focus on satisfying advertiser needs can work together."

"Newspapers today can't expect advertising will be there for the asking," Halverson said. "They have to find out what advertisers need, and then find creative ways to fulfill those needs."

Seiser said the Regional News and Resorter received an award in all but two of the categories it entered. Halverson selected the Regional News and Resorter contest entries.

"We haven't always entered the Better Newspaper and Better Advertising contests, maybe we need to send in a few more stories, editorials, photos and ads next year," Seiser said.

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