Daily Iowan named Newspaper of the Year in state competition for second time

For the second consecutive year, and the fourth time in the award’s 52-year history, The Daily Iowan won the top award in the Iowa Newspaper Association’s statewide Better Newspapers contest.


Jenna Galligan

The Daily Iowan is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

The Iowa Newspaper Association named The Daily Iowan Iowa’s 2021 Newspaper of the Year in a statewide contest on Thursday.

It’s the Iowa Newspaper Association’s top honor, which the DI won for the second straight year and fourth time (1976, 1981, 2020, 2021) in the 52-year history of the award. The Newspaper of the Year is presented to the newspaper that accumulates the highest point total from placing first, second or third in individual categories.

Competing with daily newspapers in Iowa with a circulation of less than 10,000, the DI won 48 awards — including 24 first-place awards.

“I am absolutely thrilled that our hard-working and talented staffers were recognized for their outstanding perseverance in keeping the community informed,” Daily Iowan Executive Editor Sarah Watson said. “2020 began with chasing a crowded arena of Democratic hopefuls in the Iowa caucuses and never slowed down. Our reporters and photographers doggedly covered our community during a pandemic while they were scattered across the country and taking full class loads in one of the most trying years in recent memory.

“I’m so proud to share this special accomplishment with The Daily Iowan’s incredible staff,” she continued. “They could not be more deserving of this moment.”

Watson and graduate Marissa Payne were editors during the contest period. Jason Brummond is the publication’s publisher. He took the helm in 2017 after long-time publisher Bill Casey’s retirement.

The DI earned top finishes in five coverage categories — including reporting on government and politics during the 2020 Iowa caucus cycle.

Visuals director Katie Goodale received three first-place citations, including Best Breaking News Photo for her coverage of a racial justice protest in Des Moines, a slideshow documenting a Des Moines Trump rally, and the title of Best Photographer.

Graduate Katelyn Weisbrod’s story of a University of Iowa alum’s journey running an organic farm took home Best News Feature and photographer Shivansh Ahuja won Best Sports Feature Story for his profile of Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder.

Other highlights included Best Newspaper Website for the fifth year in a row and Best Podcast for a year-old weekly audio update, “On the Record.”

First-place finishes

General Excellence

Coverage of Government and Politics

Coverage of Education

Coverage of Agriculture

Coverage of Business

Coverage of Court and Crime

Total Newspaper Design

Best Use of Graphics

Best Newspaper Website

Best Use of Social Media

Best Podcast – “On the Record”

Best Slideshow – Shivansh Ahuja and Ryan Adams: Iowa football vs. Minnesota

Best Breaking News Photo – Katie Goodale: Des Moines protest

Best Sports Photo – Shivansh Ahuja

Best Photo Story – Katina Zentz and Katie Goodale: January Trump rally in Des Moines 

Best Photographer – Katie Goodale

Best News Feature Story – Katelyn Weisbrod: 2 years ago, she was pre-med at the UI. Now, she’s running her own organic farm.

Best Sports Story – Anna Kayser: Michael Kemerer dominated, 20-0, in his return to the wrestling mat

Best Sports Feature Story – Shivansh Ahuja: Lisa Bluder: 20 years of making leaders for Iowa women’s basketball

Master Columnist – Elijah Helton

Best Ad Designer – Heidi Owen

Best Web Advertisement – Heidi Owen

Best Ad Featuring Financial, Insurance or Other Professional Service – Heidi Owen

Best Ad Featuring Automotive, Boats, Tires, etc. – Heidi Owen


Second-place finishes

Best Front Page

Best Feature Page(s)

Best Video – Staff: Caucus Chaos: Iowa City

Best Slideshow – Staff: Iowa caucuses

Best Breaking News Photo – Jeff Sigmund: Derecho

Best Sports Feature Photo – Shivansh Ahuja Spencer Lee victory

Best Photo Story – Staff: Iowa caucuses

Best Photographer – Katina Zentz

Best News Feature Story – Julia Shanahan: Farmers face economic barriers to sustainable farming, amid climate change reports

Best Personality Feature – Anna Kayser: Tom Brands leads through accountability in the Iowa wrestling room

Best Sports Story – Pete Ruden: Smith-Marsette shows off speed in win over USC

Best Sports Columnist – Robert Read

Best Special Section Advertising – Heidi Owen (Pregame)

Best Web Advertisement – Heidi Owen

Best Ad Featuring Financial, Insurance or Other Professional Service – Heidi Owen


Third-place finishes

Best Slideshow – Katie Goodale: Protesters and police clash after rally in honor of George Floyd in Des Moines

Best Photo Story – Jeff Sigmund and Jake Maish (Cedar Rapids derecho damage and Residents of Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas assess the path to recovery in the aftermath of the derecho)

Best News Photo – Shivansh Ahuja

Best News Feature Photo – Katina Zentz: Iowa football tours U.S. Naval Base in San Diego

Best Photographer – Shivansh Ahuja: Pete Buttigieg

Best News Feature Story – Caleb McCullough: Patients face roadblocks in medical marijuana

Best Sports Feature – Anna Kayser: Tom Brands leads through accountability in the wrestling room

Best Ad Featuring Service or Merchandise – Heidi Owen

Best Ad Featuring Miscellaneous – Heidi Owen

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