Pioneer Press writers nab top honors at statewide awards

Pioneer Press publications took home first-place awards Friday for school board coverage and sports feature writing at the annual Illinois Press Association competition in Springfield.

The newspaper chain, part of Sun-Times Media, also took honors in government beat reporting and feature writing.

Reporters Kim Fornek and Chuck Fieldman received first place for school board coverage in the Hinsdale Doings and affiliated papers. The award primarily recognized their coverage of Hinsdale High School District 86, and was judged by all stories appearing in four different editions of the newspaper in 2013.

John Borneman received first place for sports feature for “A chance journey home for Northridge coach Will Rey” in the Niles Herald-Spectator.

“A very nice, thorough profile of a coach who ends up in an unexpected place,” the judges wrote. “Story races the coach’s journey and explains the reasons for his moves.”

Matt Harness also received a first place award in that category, though in a different circulation class, for “Schueler’s influence still felt six years after he lost battle with cancer, infection” in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate.

“A clear-cut winner, I loved this story,” the judge wrote. “Excellent lead, well-written and extensive sourcing. It provided a wonderfully moving story about the impact of a youth who died too young.”

Reporter Mike Isaacs took second place for feature writing for “‘No Place on Earth’ sheds light on Holocaust survivors’ cave dwellings” in the Skokie Review.

“This beautifully-written story brought tears to my eyes,” the judge wrote. “The writer’s ability to tell a story is spot on.”

Reporter Todd Shields took third place for government beat reporting for his work covering a legislator’s first year in the Illinois General Assembly. The story, “Fine builds relationships, trust, first year in house,” was recognized for nicely telling a state legislative story, “an area small local newspapers overlook too often,” the judges wrote.

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