The Clear Lake Mirror-Reporter was among the winners announced in the Iowa Newspaper Association’s 2021 Iowa Better Newspaper Contests.
Approximately 3,000 entries in dozens of categories were judged by the MDDC (Maryland Delaware District of Columbia) Press Association. Newspapers were judged by class, based on circulation. The Clear Lake Mirror-Reporter was placed in the largest of three weekly newspaper categories, Weekly Class III, for those with circulation of 1,501 and above.
The Mirror-Reporter earned first place for “Best COVID-19 Coverage.”
Publisher Marianne Gasaway noted the honor was especially gratifying because the eight examples of COVID coverage submitted for judging were representative of the work of all Mirror-Reporter staff members.
Editorial content included in-depth reports in the March 13, 2020 issue detailing what COVID-19 is, local closings, healthcare advice, policies put in place by schools, banks and other local institutions, as well as call center information. Additional stories shared the impact of the coronavirus on everything from agriculture to social norms. An editorial reminded readers “When You’re On Your Own, We Are There With You.”
The newspaper also introduced a “Keep Calm and Carry Out” listing to help local restaurants who were suddenly forced to stop indoor dining service.
A Clear Lake Game of Clues was developed to offer families a free activity which could be done safely and was included in a sample mailing of the newspaper so that all Clear Lake and Ventura residents would receive the issue free of charge.
“Imaginative. Bold. Graphics were great. Layout spectacular. Very thorough and well-written coverage,” commented judges on the entry.
Mirror-Reporter Photographer Chris Barragy also earned a third place award in the Best News Photo category. Barragy’s photo was taken from the back of the gymnasium at Clear Lake High School’s commencement ceremony. Members of the graduating class seated apart from each other, as recommended by health officials, were a stark reminder of unusual times.
“Captures one of the two largest stories of the year in a subtle yet unmistakable way. The empty chair in the foreground makes the viewer wonder if there is a deeper story. Nice symmetry and composition,” wrote judges.
Barragy has been a consistent winner in the INA photo contests, taking honors each year since becoming a Mid-America Publishing team member in 2017.