News-Argus honored at state newspaper contest

Some of the News-Argus staff celebrate their awards at the Montana Newspaper Association’s annual meeting, held at the Yogo Inn Saturday. Shown are (front, from left) Designer Alice Neal, Managing Editor Deb Hill, (back from left) Classified Manager Meagan Steiner, Reporter Charlie Denison and Reporter Jenny Gessaman.  

Photo courtesy of Kalvin Baldry


The Lewistown News-Argus earned the General Excellence award as the top weekly newspaper in its class at the 132nd annual convention of the Montana Newspaper Association. 

The News-Argus received 21 awards including a record 13 first-place plaques on Saturday evening at the Yogo Inn, which was the headquarters for the three-day gathering.   

This year’s Better Newspaper Contest featured 2,636 entries from newspapers around the state, which compete in different divisions based on circulation. This year’s entries were judged by members of the North Dakota Newspaper Association. 

The award for General Excellence received by the News-Argus marked the first time since 1999 the News-Argus has earned the highest honor its division. 

“It was nice to see our entire staff rewarded for all the great work they do,” said Jacques Rutten, News-Argus publisher. “We have done well in this contest for many years, but this year was truly exceptional.”

Following is a complete rundown of awards received by the News-Argus: 


First-Place Awards

• Best Special Section – For more than 100 years, the News-Argus has produced an annual Christmas Edition, documenting the rich history of Central Montana. This year judges described it as “clearly a first place section.” The Christmas Edition includes stories written by News-Argus staff and members of the community and advertisements from dozens of local businesses. 

• Best Niche Publication – For the second time in the past three years, the Discover Lewistown visitor guide was honored by judges. Staff members who contributed to the effort in 2016 included Linda Gerleman, Tim Hartford, Deb Hill and others. 

• Best Color Ad to Promote Services – Advertising Manager Dearlene Hodik and former graphic designer Stephanie Prater worked closely with Central Montana Medical Center on this advertisement about pain management. Judges said, “Great use of color, and using the state outline and star for location was genius. I loved it.” 

Best Black and White Ad to Promote Services – Advertising Representative Terri Selph and Designer Alice Neal worked together on this ad for the DUI Task Force. Judges liked that it was “clear and precise.” 

• Best Newspaper Promotional Ad – Classifeds Manager Meagan Steiner worked with Rutten on this holiday shopping promotion for the News-Argus. 

• Best Enterprise Journalism – In the fall of 2016, the News-Argus took an in-depth look at Lewistown’s downtown. The result was a multi-story, six-page section that earned the News-Argus one of the night’s most prestigious awards. Judges described it as an “excellent example of community focused journalism.” Among those who contributed stories to the downtown feature were Managing Editor Deb Hill,  reporters Charlie Denison and Jenny Gessaman, local writer Jim Dullenty and Rutten. 

• Best News Story – Reporter Jenny Gessaman won four individual news writing awards on Saturday including one for her article on the incredible rescue of a drowning baby in Warm Springs Creek last summer. The judge said it was, “Hands down the best story among the dozens of stories I judged…”

• Best Feature Story – Early last summer, Gessaman told the emotional story of a local family whose infant daughter had died, and who were still waiting for answers from the state medical examiners. Judges wrote: “This story was so informational and heartrbreaking. I hung on every last word and thirsted for more at the end.” 

• Best Education Coverage –  “The Last of the one-room schoolhouses” was the headline for Gessaman’s award-winning entry about Hutterite schools in Fergus County. 

• Best Breaking News Story – When Denton lost access to its water supply, Gessaman gave a thorough account of the crisis. Her reporting earned her a first-place award. Judges wrote: “Strong entry that explained an issue critical to its readership.”

• Mark Henkel Outdoor Writing Award – Rutten received this award for a first-person account of an elk hunt last fall. 

• Best Editorials – Rutten received this award for three editorials on topics including the future of Petroleum County, Ackley Lake’s state park status and the growing controversy over bison in Central Montana. 

• Best Column Writing – Rutten received this award for a column explaining how the News-Argus responded to a controversial situation at the local Catholic church. Judges wrote, “You presented a very difficult issue in the most professional manner possible.” 


Second-Place Awards

• Best Sports Story -- Sports Editor Doreen Heintz earned second place for her story on three Lewistown students who play hockey for the Havre high school team. Judges said, “Doreen’s storytelling here, in sharing an unusual tale of three classmates learning hockey in a new town, is particularly thorough and well-written.”

• Best Sports Column Writing – Heintz received this award for a column titled, “Remembering Pat Summit”

• Best Editorial - Hill earned this award for an editorial on open meetings. Judges wrote: “Compelling lede, tightly written, well-defined and supported points.” 

• Best Color Ad to Promote Services – Advertising Manager Dearlene Hodik and Designer Stephanie Prater worked on this ad for the Hospice Golf Tournament. Judges liked the “great art” used in the ad. 

• Best Overall Website, Best Front Page and Best Sports Page Design – These three awards were received by the News-Argus staff. 


Third-Place Awards

• Best Special Section – The News-Argus staff earned this award for its fall Ag In Action section. Judges commented: “Just a nice all-around section. Nice variety of stories.” 



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