General Excellence goes to the overall best performing newspapers of the year, and the Tribune brought home this top honor and 12 additional awards – four first places, four second places, and four third places – on Sunday afternoon
"This is a huge and hard-earned accomplishment," said the Tribune's director of content and audience development, Cheryl Welch, of being named the best paper in the state. "Our talented team of journalists beat out newspapers nearly twice our size – and we did so because of our dedication to serving our readers. We're the little paper that could, and did!"
The Tribune's newsroom staff also earned the most awards of any other newspaper in its highly competitive division of the annual Michigan Associated Press Media Editors’ contest.
The first-place General Excellence award capped an afternoon of exciting wins.
The Tribune swept the Best Informational Graphic/Illustration category, with designer Jordan Haenlein winning third place for the “That’s the Ticket!” graphic on local lottery winners and second place for his financial graphic “Stocks Surge”; while first place went to reporter Krystle Wagner and Haenlein for the “Sky’s the Limit” graphic on graduating seniors’ plans after high school.
The Tribune also swept the Breaking News category, with reporter Becky Vargo winning first place with her “Russian Roulette: Teen Clinging to Life” and third place for her “Young Mom Abducted” stories, and Wagner winning second place for her “Teen Dies in Crash” story.
Vargo also won first place for Best News Photo for her “Asleep on the Bus” image of a child reunited with her mother after she failed to get off the bus at her stop. She also earned a second-place Best News Writer award.
Sports editor Matt DeYoung won third place for Best Sports with an award for “Breathtaking Victory,” a story about the Spring Lake girls’ first-ever regional volleyball win.
Welch won a first-place Best Editorial award for her opinion piece titled “Stand Up Against Racism,” related to the federal racism investigation at Grand Haven High School.
Reporter Alex Doty won third place in the Best Public Service category with “Wages 101,” a series of stories looking at public wages and challenges facing our local governments.
Grandhaventribune.com also won a second-place award for Best Website, a win for the entire news team, which works around the clock to provide timely news, weather and breaking updates for online readers.
Tribune Publisher Kevin Hook said he is extremely proud of the Tribune's news team and the accomplishment of being recognized as the General Excellence Award winner. With this award, the Tribune earns the honors of being called the best newspaper in the state alongside the Detroit Free-Press and the Kalamazoo Gazette.
This is the second time in a year the Tribune has been named best of the best – the paper's newsroom also earned the title Newspaper of the Year in the Michigan Press Association's awards contest this past fall.
"I’m proud of the way the news team provides quality content to our readers on matters of importance here in Northwest Ottawa County on a consistent basis," Hook said. "Welch has provided great leadership to her team over the past two years and it shows in this recognition."
The Michigan Associated Press contest is one of two in the state that the Tribune enters each year. In both contests, submissions are judged by out-of-state journalists. This year AP judges sifted through 1,133 entries – stories, graphics and photos - from 30 daily newspapers to pick the best of the best. The Tribune's competes against daily newspapers that have circulations of up to 15,000.
See all the award winners in Category 1 and the judges’ comments by clicking on the PDF below.