The Observer Takes 7 Awards In NINA Contest
October 25, 2018
DEKALB—The Observer staff received seven awards in the annual Northern Illinois Newspaper Association (NINA) best newspaper contest. 
Penny Wiegert, editor, and Sharon Boehlefeld, features editor, shared first place in the education reporting category for “Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy to Open in Aurora for 2018-19 School Year.” Wiegert wrote the text and Boehlefeld designed the illustrations and an infographic.
The staff took two second places, one for best design and the other for best special section, awarded for the retrospective “Bishop David J. Malloy: The First Five Years.”
Observer writers swept the Owen Phelps awards for best religion stories. The award honors Phelps, who is the retired associate publisher and editor of The Observer and a past NINA president.
Correspondent Lynne Conner took second for “From Feeding Bodies to Feeding Souls,” a story about Father John McNamara’s previous career as a celebrity chef.
Boehlefeld took third place for “Foot Doctor’s Idea Becomes Holy Thursday Event at Carpenter’s.” The story was about a foot washing service offered at The Carpenter’s Place, a Rockford homeless service.
Conner also took first place in the category for a story, “If it can fix me, it can fix anybody,” in a community weekly in the diocese. 
Wiegert took a third place  for best spot news story for “Governor Rauner Reneges on Promise to Veto Abortion Funding.”
Amanda Hudson, news editor, also took a third place for best in-depth news story for a series about Adoption Month. 
Wiegert and Boehlefeld are both past presidents of the association, which has served journalists in northern Illinois for 56 years.
Founded by the Northern Illinois University Journalism Department, it is now a partner of the university’s Communication Department.