Paddock employees who met the challenge of 2020 -- and then some
It was quite a year for the staff of Paddock Publications, which in 2020 faced the challenges of publishing newspapers during a pandemic, altering coverage and content to meet the changing needs of our readers and advertisers, and dealing with a crippling cyberattack.
Those themes ran throughout the company's annual awards of excellence ceremony last month.
Here is a look at the winners in categories that exemplify the qualities the company holds in the highest regard.
Above and beyond: The production staff
The production teams both in Schaumburg and downstate Virden have been our everyday heroes. When many employees shifted to home offices, those who print and process the newspapers had to don masks and gloves and continue to work together at our printing centers.
"Everyone on our production team has gone above and beyond in 2020," said Colin O'Donnell, director of operations and strategic initiatives. "This includes Director of Production Don Stamper and his management team who all stepped up amid these trying circumstances."
Grace under pressure: Vic Millan, David Crane and Herb Schmitz
The pressure on the IT department in 2020 was enormous: making sure everyone could work from home, recovering from the cyberattack, initiating a string security improvements and in the middle of that, changing over to a new phone system.
The trio of Vic Milan, Dave Crane and Herb Schmitz has a combined 104 years of service to the company.
"There is an argument to be made that the whole company deserves this award," said Stuart Paddock III, director of digital and information technologies. "The many nominations and great stories were overwhelming."
Leading by example: Devan Vaughn
"This year's Leading By Example award recipient doesn't see lines between departments," said Stefanie Anderson, general manager of Paddock's Southern Illinois Local Media Group. "She views the entire downstate community news group as one team and doesn't hesitate to step across the aisle, at times out of her comfort zone, to pitch in."
Devan Vaughn is the director of advertising for the Southern Illinois division.
But it's not uncommon for her to shoot photos, pitch in to help update the company's Facebook pages, take on a finishing job in production or do circulation deliveries when needed.
According to one of her nominations: "Leaders are people who find a way to succeed when common conventions say they will fail. Devan is an inspiration to us when we know times are difficult."
Team player: Kay Long
Kay Long is the company's Niche Publications editor.
"I have had the privilege of working with Kay for many years, and she has always been a shining example of a team player," said M. Eileen Brown, director of strategic marketing and innovation. "But no more so than this year."
She lauded Long for helping to develop processes to rescue different parts of the paper during the cyberattack, calling her "the ultimate catcher of hot potatoes."
Change agent: Caroline Linden
As the Daily Herald's dayside news editor, Caroline Linden oversees production for the Neighbor and Time out! sections.
The Change Agent award is bestowed on the employee who best responds to the changing demands of today's news industry and the technology-driven culture in general.
"Caroline undertook supervision of the whole Neighbor operation as well as being the right hand on the Time out! sections," Managing Editor Jim Baumann said. "With the onset of the pandemic, she and Metro Editor Lisa Miner joined forces to re-imagine what Time out! could be: A way to help people who were cooped up in their homes stay sane. Puzzles, streaming suggestions and a whole variety of things to do at home while the world shut down became a great resources for our readers."
Customer service: Bonnie Bulmash
Obituary Coordinator Bonnie Bulmash "is well respected and appreciated by the local funeral home partners in the area," said Pete Rosengren, director of advertising. "They view Bonnie as an extension of their own team and family.
She takes calls on weekends to make important edits to this final document for people's loved ones."