Archive for Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Mirror newspaper receives national award — again

March 1, 2006

News that The Mirror has been named the nation's best non-daily newspaper -- for a fourth time in six years -- came via fax.

"I was pulling pages off our fax machine, and I came across one from Inland Press Foundation," said Caroline Trowbridge, editor and publisher of The Mirror. "I'd seen one like it before. For a minute, I just stood in front of the fax machine, grinning. I couldn't have been happier."

The fax said The Mirror was a winner in the Chicago-based organization's annual contest for non-daily newspapers.

Trowbridge lauded the innovative work by The Mirror's news editor, Lisa Scheller, and sports and news reporter, Shawn Linenberger.

"I couldn't ask for two better people to work with," Trowbridge said. "Shawn and Lisa believe in this newspaper. They believe in setting the bar higher and higher and higher for themselves each week. They are the reason we are winners."

Bill Roesgen, a former publisher and newspaper consultant who lives in Racine, Wis., was among three judges in the contest.

"Despite its size, this looks like one of the most sophisticated newspapers in America," Roesgen said in his judges' comments. "Clean design, good writing, lively subjects."

This week, Roesgen elaborated.

"It's a beautiful, beautiful newspaper," he said. "The first thing that just hits you in the face is it's a beautifully designed newspaper. It stays beautiful all the way through. Every section of it looks first-class."

He noted, too, Scheller's column-writing.

"I thought she had some very thoughtful comments, and that was good to see," he said."

The choice of The Mirror as the contest winner was clear.

"Yours was, by far, the best," Roesgen said. "There never was any question."

In 2001, as well as in 2004 and 2005, The Mirror also was named by Inland as the best non-daily among newspapers with circulations lower than 5,000. The Mirror, a weekly, has an average circulation of about 2,300.

"Why did we win? I think it's because we surprised the judges," Trowbridge said. "We're not your grandfather's weekly newspaper. We look great, we consistently write strong news stories and interesting features, and we take pride in our community. We like Tonganoxie, and it shows in our newspaper."

That doesn't mean, Trowbridge said, that the newspaper shies away from writing about controversy. It does mean, however, that the newspaper staff has a passion about the city and Leavenworth County -- and, most importantly, about the people who live and work in the area.

"I think people respect us, and I think people trust us to tell them the truth," said Trowbridge, who last week received the award at Inland's 2006 Weekly Newspaper Conference in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"There's a lot of discussion these days about how journalists have fallen from favor. I don't believe that's the case at The Mirror. Integrity is what we're all about."

In addition, Trowbridge said the newspaper's ownership believes strongly in community journalism.

"We are a family-owned company that is committed to providing information, whether it's through our weekly newspaper or through updates on our Web site," she said.

The Mirror is the only newspaper to have won the Inland contest more than twice. The judges reviewed entries and made their decisions based on the quality of writing, story selection, design and presentation and community focus.

A sister newspaper of The Mirror -- the Eudora News -- took third place in this year's contest, behind the Forest Park (Ill.) Review. The judges said the Eudora News presented "quality journalism in rural Mid-America. Good photography, well-displayed. Writing is first-class."

Both The Mirror and the Eudora News are owned by the World Company of Lawrence.

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