Wednesday, July 17, 2013

International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors gives annual awards for public service, editorials

The International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors concluded its annual conference Saturday night by handing out its awards for editorial writing and its top honor, the Eugene Cervi Award, for a career of outstanding public service through community journalism.

Bill Schanen
This year's Cervi Award went to William F. Schanen III, who "has worked for the Ozaukee Press in Port Washington, Wis., for nearly 50 years — including 42 as publisher," reports the latest ISWNE newsletter. "When his father, Bill Schanen Jr., died suddenly in 1971, Bill III was 28 years old and left to somehow keep alive a newspaper that was on the very edge of having to fold because of an advertiser boycott. Schanen never gave an inch on the principles that led them to fight the boycott and, in fact, made the Press a stronger voice than ever in fighting for press freedom and freedom of information, while also making the paper a vital, influential, successful weekly."

Schanen and editor William IV continue a strong family tradition. William Jr., who founded the paper in 1940, won the 1970 Elijah Lovejoy Award for courage in journalism. "Few have elevated the standards and appreciation for the community press more than the Schanens," wrote Bill Haupt, former editor and publisher of the Lodi Enterprise and former presdient of ISWNE and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

The ISWNE conference was held in the Green Bay area, and its other big winner was also from Wisconsin. The Golden Quill contest for editorials was won for a second time by Peter Weinschenk, editor of The Record-Review, a rural weekly in Marathon County for 32 years. He also won the Golden Quill in 2011, and was among the Golden Dozen's 11 runners-up in 2010 and 2012. "To say he’s on a roll would be an understatement," the newsletter says.

Weinschenk's winning editorial mocked the county's spending on things "to hip up the county a notch and lure young, highly educated professionals to this area. Our Balmain slim fit jeans are snugging up just below our waist just talking about it. . . . Look at other counties. What do they spend their tax money on? Well, all the normal dumb stuff. Road salt. Squad cars. Bed pans. Army surplus jackets and Led Zeppelin t-shirts for the undercover drug agent. In other words, boring."

Peter Weinschenk
Weinschenk's explanatory piece about his editorial began, "I have always been a smart ass. . . . I am overjoyed that my talents as a wisenheimer have finally received not just national, but international recognition." He added, "I don’t write an editorial until I am certain that a unit of government is hopelessly lost in the swamp. . . . County board members dropped six figures in tax money in a silly attempt to replace a closed major paper mill and insulated window manufacturer with companies in pursuit of latte-sipping, skateboard-riding Ph.D.’s looking for the next indie rock fest."

Other winners in the Golden Dozen were George Brown of the Ponoka News in Alberta; Andrew Broman of the Independent Review in Litchfield, Minn.; Paul MacNeill of The Eastern Graphic in Montague, P.E.I.; Tim Waltner of the Freeman Courier in South Dakota; Roger Harnack of the Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle in Washington; Steve Ranson of the Lahontan Valley News in Fallon, Nev.; M. Dickey Drysdale of The Herald of Randolph, Vt.; Brian Wilson of The Star News in Medford, Wis.; Marcia Martinek of the Herald Democrat in Leadville, Colo.; and Cary Hines and Elliott Freireich for separate editorials in the West Valley View in Avondale, Ariz.

ISWNE's 2014 conference will be held in Durango, Colo. For more information on the organization see

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