The Clinton Herald on Friday was presented with the Website of the Year Award in the smaller daily division for parent company Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.
Company President and CEO Donna Barrett and CNHI Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steve McPhaul visited the Herald's office to give the award to Publisher Ron Gutierrez and newsroom staff, including Herald Editor Charlene Bielema, Associate Editor Scott Levine and Digital Content Editor Elise Loyola.
"This is my favorite part of the job, presenting these awards. This is a really big deal," CNHI President and CEO Donna Barrett said Friday morning as she presented the award in Clinton.
Barrett said the contest for CNHI's website of the year for division II daily newspapers was highly competitive.
"I'm going to estimate you were up against roughly 35 to 40 other locations across the country. We're talking about Massachusetts, North Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma. But the winner, and there's only one winner, is in Clinton, Iowa. You had the absolute best website of small dailies in all of the company. We couldn't be more pleased and proud of you."
She added that the staff should strive to receive the same level of recognition in future CNHI contests.
"Your goal should be to see us again next year," Barrett said.
McPhaul called the Clinton Herald an example of excellence.
"In the last 12 months we have managed significant change, with the ultimate goal of improving our ability to deliver a high-quality product in multiple formats - niche products - print and digital," said Herald Publisher Ron Gutierrez. "On top of these changes we have met the demands of our audience's desire for constant, credible news gathering — delivered by device via mobile, desktop and print. No longer do we wait until our next press deadline to communicate with our readers. We realize our new goals must be fluid to changes in our coverage area but consistent and deliver on a timely basis when and how our audience consumes the information."
In the judges' comments, the Herald was cited for its coverage of breaking news and production of online story packages.
"The Herald packs its site with local information – including polling locations at election time and details about a cross-state bicycle race that finishes in Clinton," read the judges critique. "The site attracts readers with updated posts on breaking news stories. It demonstrates strong use of multimedia features, including a video about urban chicken farming and a year-in-review slideshow."
This was the seventh award earned by the Clinton Herald's newsroom staff this year. The Herald was honored with a total of six awards in ceremonies conducted by the Iowa Newspaper Association and the Iowa AP in February.
Two third-place INA awards were presented to the Herald newsroom: One in the Community Service category for a food drive conducted for the Victory Center Rescue Mission, while the other was in the Best Website category.
Clinton Herald Associate Editor Scott Levine was named a Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award winner, one of three given to a newsroom staff member who is younger than 30.
The AP awards included a second place for newsroom staff for Continuing News Coverage concerning the city of Clinton wrestling with sewer bills, a second-place for former Lifestyle Editor Angie Bicker and Digital Content Editor Elise Loyola for an online package about urban chicken farming and a third-place for writer Katie Dahlstrom for a business story about Mercy Medical Center’s robot used to assist patients.