Observer Cited for General Excellence By Northern Illinois News Association
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
November 2, 2023
DEKALB—The Observer has again earned recognition for quality journalism in a variety of categories. But one of the most outstanding was in the General Excellence category announced at the annual fall meeting and awards competition of the Northern Illinois News Association (NINA), Oct. 26.
The Observer received a third place award in the General Excellence category in which daily and non-daily newspapers in Chicago and all over Northern Illinois compete against each other. Taking first place in that category was the Daily Herald and second place was awarded to the Quad Cities Regional Business Journal.
Other awards earned by The Observer included a second and third place award for Best Religion Reporting, an award named for former Observer editor Owen Phelps who served for decades on NINA’s board of directors. 
Amanda Hudson received a second place for her story on “Woman’s Healing May Be a Miracle for Janesville Man’s Cause.” The judges said “Good work following the local thread of a story with regional, national, and Church-wide implications. The telling of the possible miracle was particularly well-done.” Correspondent Lynne Conner received a third place for “Ministry Honors Deceased, Supports Grieving Families,” a ministry at St. Bridget Parish in Rockford. The judges said “Good job telling the stories of those who benefit from this ministry, putting specific faces and stories into what could have been just another typical feature on an ongoing program. “
In the Technology and Medical category, Amanda Hudson and Megan Peterson received a third place award for “Those who Have Ears Ought to Be Able to Hear, New Technology Helping More Diocesan Parishioners.” Hudson wrote the story and Peterson provided the layout and original graphics for the story.
In the News Story Series Category Amanda Hudson and Margarita Mendoza earned a third place award for their series of stories celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month which the judges described 
as “educational and intimate.”
The Observer also earned a second place in the spot news category for coverage by editor Penny Wiegert of the August 2022 fire at St. James Church in Rockford titled, “Lightning Suspected in St. James Fire.” The judges said Wiegert’s work was “really well done. Great reporting with real sweep. Quotes made you feel like you were at the scene. Nice photos too.”
The Observer is the only religious publication competing in the contest that included hundreds of entries from secular news organizations across all of Northern Illinois.
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