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Monroe Times recognized with 31 WNAF awards
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MADISON — The Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation announced last week that the Monroe Times had been one of the top award-receiving newspapers in the state in the 2020 Better Newspaper Contest.

The Monroe Times earned 31 WNA Awards in the contest. In the last three years, the newspaper has won 94 WNA awards and was been named the best newspaper in the state in its circulation category in 2019.

The WNAF had postponed its annual awards banquet and trade show in March, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The WNAF eventually formally cancelled the event and announced its annual winners last week. Just as in 2019, the Gazette of Janesville was named the daily newspaper of the year. The Lakeland Times of Minoqua was named the weekly newspaper of the year for 2020.

The Monroe Times shined in local feature writing winning first place in both the Feature-story-profile and Feature-story, non-profile categories in its circulation division. Times editor Emily Massingill won for her story, “Continuing Christmas” and former Times’ staffer Marissa Weiher won for her profile on arborist Lant Huntley in “The Tree Doctor.”

“The categories that get the most nominations are for feature writing and for the Times to win first place in both of those categories in one year is a rare feat,” Times publisher Matt Johnson, who has been with the paper since 2016, said. “We’ve made local news coverage our priority. This is one of many examples that the Times has succeeded in giving its readers outstanding local news to read in each edition.” 

Former Times staffer Bridget Cooke took first-place in Environmental Reporting for her coverage of a Lafayette County water quality investigation. Cooke also took first place for writing a story on agriculture.

One key first-place award won by the Times was for All-Around Newspaper Photography — which looks at all areas of camera artwork done by a newspaper in the course of a year — news, spot-news, feature, sports, portraits, groups, etc. The award for that reflects on all who took photographs for the Times in the contest.

The Times won first-place awards for advertising production. Lance Ray produced the best small advertisement in the Times circulation category for the annual happy holidays’ advertisement for New Glarus Brewing Co.

Matt Johnson and Jaimie Tran were credited with a first-place award for best newspaper promotion — pointing out how local reporting in the Monroe Times has improved the newspaper over the past few years and made a difference in the community.

The Times received 11 second-place awards including Massingill, Weiher and Cooke for enterprise writing; Adam Krebs for his sports column “From Left Field” and sports photography; Weiher for spot-news photography; Cooke for reporting on local education; Kat Cisar for breaking news coverage; Weiher for general news photography; Johnson for his local column “Meanwhile in Oz;” Laura Hughes and Tran for best niche product regarding the City of Monroe’s Parks & Recreation guide; and Ray for best restaurant advertisement for Turner Hall in Monroe.

The Times was recognized with a second-place award for an ongoing community service project with the Monroe Woman’s Club — Christmas Stocking Project.

“We’ve continued to work with the woman’s club on this vital community project and have continually sought ways to give more relevant contributions to help make it successful,” Johnson said. “We recognize we’re a part of what is an enormous project by the woman’s club and the community as a whole. It’s really an honor to be part of spreading the word regarding how everyone comes together in such a well-orchestrated project.”

The Times received five third-place awards including a staff award for its Cheese Days 2018 special section; Diane Albright for best use of color for an advertisement featuring the Swirl Station; Cooke for business coverage; Weiher for best portrait; and Hughes and Tran for Best Niche Product for the Monroe High School Athletics Booster Book.

Closing out the Times awards were nine awards for honorable mention including Weiher for sports photography; Massingill for best front page; Tran for best digital advertisement for the Green County EMS; the Times staff for its editorial (“Views”) pages; Albright for the Bill Payne Award honoring advertising production; and Albright for best restaurant ad for Black Walnut Kitchen.

The entire advertising team of Hughes, Albright, Ray and Tai Ruegsegger were recognized for Best Niche Product for the annual Source Magazine and Best Special Section for advertising the prep sports playoffs for both Monroe and Black Hawk.

The awards won by the Times in the WNAF contest reflect on the entire staff of Morris Media of Monroe which publishes the Times, Monroe Shopping News, and