The Daily Iowegian received a top-three finish in several categories of the Iowa Newspaper Association’s annual awards contest.

Competing amongst similarly sized newspapers, the Daily Iowegian took first place for best news story and first place for total newspaper design. The newspaper’s staff added several second and third place finishes in other categories, as well.

The awards included content produced from Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019. They were announced Friday at the newspaper’s annual banquet and convention in Des Moines.

Kyle Ocker and Colin Peters shared the byline on the best news story, which reported details on the dismissal of two Indian Hills baseball coaches. The reporters worked over more than four months to speak with players and other sources to determine what led to the coach dismissals at the end of the 2018 season.

Among the issues, the players said in the story reported in October 2018, was an accusation head coach Cam Walker and assistant coach Steve Kletke provided false names to foreign players so they could work for security companies at off-campus athletic events such as the Iowa Hawkeye football games.

“What amazing, in-depth reporting,” judges said. “From the details to the timeline to the impact, this story covers all the bases. Wonderful work.”

The story previously won honors in another statewide contest through the Iowa Associated Press Media Editors. It was named a finalist in the national Investigative Reporters and Editors contest, behind ESPN’s reporting on the Larry Nassar scandal.

The Daily Iowegian also placed first in total newspaper design. Judges liked the paper’s “clean layout with nice, large art.”

The Daily Iowegian sports section, which is led by Peters, took second place for best sports section in the Daily Iowegian’s circulation category. Judges said the section contained “nice, clean pages with good local content. The sections had a crisp feel and were easy to navigate.” Judges said, “not much separated the top three spots here.”

Ocker had two second place finishes in best sports photo and best sports feature photo. Taking those honors was a photograph of Centerville Big Reds baseball player Merrick Mathews sliding into home during a rain shower and senior members of the Centerville Big Reds football team taking a final walk on the football field.

The Daily Iowegian’s reporting on courts and crime, leveraged by trial stories and a series on rural jail overcrowding, took third place.

Making waves at the banquet was the Iowa City Daily Iowan, a student-run publication that took top honors as the state’s newspaper of the year.

Approximately 3,335 entries in dozens of categories were judged by class, based on circulation. The Daily Iowegian competed amongst papers that publish three or less times per week with a circulation between 961-1,550.

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