The Lake Mills Leader earned four awards in the 2020 Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation (WNAF) Better Newspaper Contest, the WNAF announced on Friday, Feb. 19.

Lake Mills Leader Managing Editor Sarah Weihert won second place awards for Best Front Page design, Best Breaking News Reporting and Enterprise/Interpretive Reporting.

In the entry for Best Front Page the judge said, “Beautiful color, sharp contrast, great photo elements for sports teasers.”

In the entry for Breaking News Reporting for a series of stories published starting in July titled, “Social media controversy leads to inaccuracy, turmoil in city,” the judge wrote social media can be the devil, “The social media storm after a peaceful protest illustrated how quickly misinformation can be spread, as well as the lasting harm that can result. Sarah Weihert follows the progression in a series of stories that highlight her skill as a writer.”

The award for enterprise/interpretive reporting examined the opioid issue in Lake Mills.

The judge said, “Writer does a great job in demonstrating right from the get-go that this is a local issue, through data and sourcing. Really nice job in getting sources who often are close-lipped to open up in delivering an honest, unflinching look at a difficult, dangerous issue.”

The newspaper also received a second-place award in the general excellence category. The judge said, “A lot of local news and photos in each edition. Good leads and writing throughout. Included all the information you look for in a local newspaper.”

The Spring/Summer edition of Discover magazine published by the Daily Jefferson County Union with contributions from the Lake Mills Leader and other Hometown News publications received the first-place award for Best Special Section in Division C.

Weihert has been managing editor at the Leader since 2018 and before that was the education reporter at the Watertown Daily Times.

The 2020 Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation Better Newspaper Contest received 2,051 entries from 103 newspapers. This year’s contest was judged by newspaper professionals from the Texas Press Association. Competitions were judged across six circulation divisions — three daily and three weekly — unless otherwise noted. Contests with three or fewer total submissions within a single division were judged against entries in the next highest division. Categories with fewer than 10 submissions across daily or weekly divisions were judged across all the respective publication frequency. The newspaper that accumulates the most overall points from editorial and advertising awards is named Best of Division. The daily and weekly newspapers with the most points across their respective publication groups receive the Newspaper of the Year Awards. Recipients of 2020 Newspaper of the Year Awards were Publisher Orestes Baez and The Gazette, Janesville, (Daily Division) and Publisher Kurt Krueger and the Vilas County News-Review, Eagle River (Weekly Division).

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