Belleville News-Democrat wins 20 awards in Illinois journalism contests

The Belleville News-Democrat was honored Thursday with 20 awards, including eight first-place awards, for its journalism by the Illinois Press Association and Illinois Associated Press Media Editors.

The awards, for work published in 2022, were presented at the press association’s annual convention in Bloomington.

Here is the work awarded by the Illinois Press Association:

A contest judge described her work as “a thorough data-driven group of stories into repeated violations and problems in nursing homes that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A strong example of public service journalism.”

“In an absolutely packed (community service reporting) category, the BND’s coverage of nursing homes stands out for its painstakingly collected and constructed database of inspection violations,” another judge wrote of the work. “This is the definition of ‘news you can use,’ and a wonderful example of journalism’s ability to use public records to tell a story — and this newspaper’s ability to bring those records to the public in easily useable and viewable ways. Congrats.”

“A strong, comprehensive look at both a specific tragic situation and the larger issues that it showcases,” a judge wrote. “Great work.”

“This had me with the lead, which I was cautious about being an exaggeration but the story backed it up with the stat about where 90% of Stag is sold,” a judge wrote. “Clearly this has local appeal that a lot of people have bottled-up thoughts about. There’s a danger to overwrite something like this but here details bring the Stag culture and legacy to life.”

“Really thorough look at this issue,” a judge wrote. “I didn’t realize how much coal miners made until this story and the reporter really dove into what they are going to do when those close in the coming decades. Overturned every coal rock in the story. Flowed really well for such a long story, enjoyed it.”

  • First place spot news photo, first place portrait and first place online photo series or gallery for work by former BND photojournalist Derik Holtmann. Holtmann now is a photographer for University of Missouri-St. Louis.

This 2022 photo won a first place award for spot news photography in the Illinois Press Association journalism contest. In it, a Spanish Lake firefighter carries wire cutters across a set of railroad tracks so firefighters can cut an access point in a fence. Firefighters from multiple agencies in Missouri and Illinois responded to a warehouse fire in Madison, Illinois. The smoke from the fire could be seen for miles.

“Great coverage of important crime and punishment issues by Smith,” a judge wrote.

Here is the work awarded by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors:

  • Second place portrait and third place news photo for work by former BND photographer Derik Holtmann.