/ Articles / Again! The Lakeland Times — Voted Wisconsin’s Best Weekly Newspaper

Again! The Lakeland Times — Voted Wisconsin’s Best Weekly Newspaper

Best in State back-to-back years

May 22, 2020 by Brett LaBore

It takes an entire team to win a championship. For The Lakeland Times, it took the entire staff to win many honors and be recognized at the 2019 Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA) awards.

The Times won the best in Division D Wisconsin Weekly Award and the title of Best Weekly Newspaper in the State of Wisconsin. These were a part of the 50 total awards The Times brought home at their banquet.

“I’m very proud of our staff,” publisher Gregg Walker said. “It’s a great accomplishment to be the best in state back-to-back years when you’re competing against more than 100 Wisconsin newspapers.”

The 2019 Better Newspaper Contest included 2,533 total entries from 106 newspapers. Of the 50 total awards The Times won, 14 were first place. 

The entries were judged by the New York Press Association. 

“It’s also very humbling when your peers from the New York Press Association, who judged the contest, hold our newspaper in such high regard,” Walker said. “Plus, we have the responsibility to cover the best part of the state of Wisconsin, and couldn’t have won the ‘best in state’ without a great community.”

A top award for The Times was a first place in Division D for Investigative Reporting, article “Lakeland Times seeks names of disciplined DOJ employees” by Richard Moore.

“Wow! This incredibly in-depth series proves the true impact of investigative journalism,” judge’s comments read. “Better yet, the writing remained clear and transparent throughout. Congratulations.”

The awards banquet was held at The Times’ Minocqua office on May 14 because COVID-19 caused the annual banquet originally scheduled for March to be canceled.

Spotlight awards

Freelance writer Abigail Bostwick took first place in feature (profile) nomination for her story, “The beautiful spirit he was: Remembering Wayne Valliere, Jr.”

“I am humbled and so appreciative of these awards that recognize some of the articles and people I worked with in the last year,” she said. “These issues and people are close to my heart, and having the WNA honor that has been such a lovely surprise. I also have a great team of people to work with at The Lakeland Times, and am grateful they put their faith in me to cover these matters.”

“A moving memorial to a young life cut short, this moving story is extremely well researched and colorfully told with specific details starting the day he was born through his short but meaningful life,” judge’s comments read. “Well researched and well written. Excellent!”

Bostwick also took first place in business coverage for “Ken’s Old Tyme Barber Shop,” “Supporting a neuro-diverse community,” and “VCEDC, Vilas County featured in normal business magazine.” 

News director Brian Jopek also took a first place award for his feature (non-profile) story, “A soldier comes home,” and for him, it was extra special.

“I’m pleased that I won the award, not so much for myself as I am for really the family that the article was about,” he said. “It’s nice to get the recognition, but for me it’s the importance of it, of what the subject matter was.”

Judges comments reflected the well-earned win: “Two interwoven stories, both gripping, told with so much care. A tremendous amount of background material was presented, and the story wasn’t maudlin in any way, yet it was very moving. As with the best stories, it was both local and universal. Exceptional.”

It was the first time he’s won an award in the newspaper business.

In addition to that, Jopek also took third place in best special section — editorial for his piece on “Fallen Heroes 2019.” 

“It’s just a big thrill to be part of this organization that’s been able to have that many ‘best in state,’ ‘best in division’ awards the last few years and we’ll do everything we can to continue that tradition,” he said.

It’s no secret photojournalist Dean Hall has taken glamorous and gorgeous photos for The Times and sister paper Northwoods River News. Hall was recognized for his efforts with a number of awards.

“It’s always nice to be recognized for your work as a photographer,” he said. “I was glad to win in a variety of different types of photographs.”

Hall took first place for sports photo titled “Mush.” He also took second place for his feature photo “Pot of gold?” 

One of the youngest writers on the staff, Kayla Houp, was recognized with a few awards as well, including second place in the Weekly Division rookie reporter of the year category.

“It’s exciting to be able to see people see my work because I love stories and I love telling stories, so to be able to do that as a career and to even get recognized for the work that I’m doing it really means a lot,” she said.

Houp also received honorable mention for reporting on local education with several Lakeland Union High School stories and second place for best headlines along with freelancers Fred Williston and Bostwick.

Other first place awards were given out to former Times production manager Sasha Case for page design and overall page design. 

General manager Heather Holmes was recognized for her efforts as well, alongside with Case. They both took first place in best use of color and best large ad for “Country Rocks Autism.” They also won best newspaper promotion for “Integrity.”

“The blue puzzle guitar puts this one over the top,” judge’s comments on the Country Rocks Autism ad read. “Excellent design! Wonderful use of color and a really fantastic design.”

The staff took first place for best front page and for special pages. The staff also took home the open records/FOI award for “Lakeland Times seeks names of disciplined DOJ employees”.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the WNA for what we do,” production manager Chris Frame said. “It is most definitely a team effort and to be awarded for our hard work in production is a fantastic testament to our collective talents.”

Another first place award went in the editorial award to Richard Moore and Walker for “The future of the chamber, the future of tourism,” “Taxpayer funded lobbying groups pose threat to open government,” and “Oneida County should listen to its bureaucrats.”

Some of the notable second, third and honorable mentions came for best use of humor from production member Yvonne Immel and sales lead Tony Loomis for “Minnow Mike.”

“Very cute ad!” judges comments read. “Artwork is eye catching and the message is clear and concise. Great job!”

Laura Larson and the production staff took second place in best ad idea (series) for “Tender Touch.”

Moore took third place in best localized national story for “Trade commission repeals newsprint tariffs”.

Reporter Jacob Friede, who passed away in a boating accident last month, took third place in local outdoor column and honorable mention for his sports feature “Remembering the champions.”

“The metaphor in the ‘Fresh Tracks’ column was a bit subtle, but appreciated,” judges comments read. “Good show of how the outdoors can create personal relationships.”

Buzzy Mode and Loomis took third place in best small ad for “Bassett Jewelers.” 

River News awards

The Northwoods River News took home 30 awards also, including 10 first place honors. They were awarded best in Division C Weekly Award.

“I am very proud to lead a small but zealous band of journalists dedicated to pursuing excellence as we chronicle life in our small northern town,” associate editor Heather Schaefer said. “The Best in Division win was especially gratifying as it shows the staff’s versatility and commitment to quality in all aspects of the miraculous process that ends with the publication of every edition.”

One of the notable awards was special pages by Friede and freelance reporter Beckie Gaskill for “Northwoods River News Outdoors.” 

“I am truly honored to be recognized by the WNA and to be a part of two awesome teams, The Lakeland Times and the Northwoods River News,” Gaskill said. “It means a lot to me to see hard work pay off, not just for me, but for all of us.”

Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected]

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