Pioneer staff wins 25 newspaper awards

SPEARFISH — Black Hills Pioneer staff members earned 25 awards at the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspapers Contest. The awards were announced Thursday morning.

“2020 provided our communities and our newspaper with a set of challenges like no other,” said Letti Lister, publisher of the Black Hills Pioneer. “Our entire staff stayed the course, and we continued to put out critical information for our readers well being, knowledge, and at many times hope for better days to come. Being recognized for our efforts from our record number of subscribers was very rewarding. We thank them for their support as well as the support of our advertisers who stuck with us through the adversity of the year. Being recognized as one of the top newspapers in the state is just the icing on the cake. I’m proud to work with the team that I do. Newspapers are alive, relevant, and well in South Dakota.”

“Getting life-saving information to our readers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic was critical and kept our crew busy,” said Mark Watson, managing editor of the Black Hills Pioneer. “I can laugh now, but those first days and weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic were so challenging. Guidance from local and federal officials was changing so fast at times that we couldn’t even publish a story on our website before guidance changed. We got through the toughest days without missing a single issue.

“This was in addition to our normal duties of informing the public of governmental action, upcoming events, serving as a watchdog in our communities, among so many more,” Watson added. “I thank our staff and our subscribers and advertisers for their continued support.”

The Pioneer staff took second place in the General Excellence category.

Jami Albrecht, Paul Baker, Scott Altstiel, received second place in the Best Newspaper Website category.

In the Best Typography & Design category, the Pioneer staff earned third place.

Alex Portal received third place in the Best Feature Series category for his story series titled “Black Hills Beef” in which he followed one local rancher, and his cattle herd through the entire year.

Watson took second place in the Best Feature Story - Non Profile category for his story “Biologists seeing bighorn success story.”

Wendy Pitlick took third place in the same category for her story “Community remembers Lead legend.”

In the Best Lede category, Deb Holland received third place for “Sturgis couple thankful for the gift of their son.”

In the Best Local Government Story, Portal took second place for his story “City plans to defund Visit Spearfish.”

Portal topped the field in the Best News Series category for his in-depth look into, “Who should make transgender choices?”

Watson placed third in the category for his stories, “Ask Dr. VanOsdol,” which was an early look into the COVID-19 outbreak.

Portal also won the Best Original Editorial Cartoon category for his cartoon, “Where have I heard this before?”

Portal and Watson won the Best Photo Series category for their photography of “President Trump delivers message at Mt. Rushmore.”

Holland took second place in the same category for “SBHS hosts historic graduation ceremony.”

Holland also received second place in the Best Portrait Photo category for “Field of Flags now waves.”

Jason Gross received second place in the Best Sports Photo category with his submission of, “Black Hills Roundup ends 1st PRCA perf.”

In the Best Series Ad Idea category, Dawn Hatch received second place for “Artemis House.”

Sharon Mason took third in the same category for “Liechty Homes.”

In the Best Single Ad Idea category, Katie Hegem topped the field with “Black Hills Photography.”

Hatch earned third in the category for “Culver’s.”

Heggem took second place in the Best Use of Color category for “Home Source.”

Hatch finished right behind Heggem in the category for “ Jorgensen Realty.”

In the Best Use of Local Photography category, Heggem took second place for “Knothole.” And Albrecht received third in the category for “Designs by Daphne.”

The entire Black Hills Pioneer staff won the Best Special Publication category for the

“Welcome to Spearfish” magazine.

The staff also received top honors in the Best Special Section Issue category for “Our Towns.”

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