For the sixth time in 10 years, the Daily Herald received the Inland Press Association's Community Leadership Award for large-circulation newspapers -- an unprecedented string of recognition by the organization, which represents newspapers from throughout North America.
And for the second year in a row, the Daily Herald was named a winner in Editorial Excellence, earning first-place honors for a series of editorials on public pension reform in Illinois.
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"Both of these awards are meaningful to us," Editor John Lampinen said. "Our overarching goal as a newspaper is to be a responsible public citizen. We have an obligation to try to help make the world a little bit better place, and we take that obligation seriously. The recognition -- and in particular, the consistency of the recognition we have received from Inland -- is a heartwarming affirmation of the staff's dedication in that regard, and we couldn't be more pleased."
The 2013 Community Leadership Award recognizes the newspaper's innovative efforts to personalize its approach to journalism, to become more interactive in its relationship with its audience and to reach out to the community with events such as a public forum held last spring on pension reform, reader competitions such as the Fittest Loser and ongoing tributes such as those to The Suburbs' Top Teachers.
"They call it engagement journalism," the judges said, "and that's just what they do at the suburban Chicago Daily Herald. They engage their readers while strengthening subscriber loyalty, connecting staff and readers with an intimacy that traditional approaches can't match and providing great stories."
Jim Slusher, assistant managing editor for the Opinion Page, received the Editorial Excellence Award on behalf of the newspaper's Editorial Board.
"The goal of our editorials is to stir thought, engage readers in important issues and promote action on matters important to suburban readers," Slusher said. "It's gratifying to have the judges recognize both the merits of that objective and our commitment to achieve it."
The judges said the series of editorials included "well-detailed arguments on fixing a huge problem for the state, with specific numbers. The editorials centered less on 'who's at fault' ... Instead, they focused on what needed to be done."
The awards were presented during a breakfast ceremony Tuesday at the association's annual meeting at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.