Hage, Union-Times win 5 MNA awards

PRINCETON – The Union-Times and Editor Jeff Hage received five awards during the Minnesota Newspaper Association 2017 Better Newspaper Contest.
The awards were handed out Jan. 26 at the 150th annual MNA convention in Bloomington for the contest period September 2015 through Aug. 31, 2016.
The contest required newspapers to submit entries for various categories decided by the MNA. In all, over 4,255 entries were submitted by MNA member daily and weekly newspapers.
Hage won three first-place awards for best columnist, best human interest story and best use of video. He also won a second-place award in best feature photo and a third-place award for best sports story in the division for weekly papers with a circulation up to 2,500.
In the column writing category, MNA contest rules required a writer submit three columns. Hage’s columns were about Milaca’s water tower standing for 100 years, the job of a janitor at the Mille Lacs County Fairgrounds, and a woman who for 28 years has protested a museum dedicated to Martin Luther King. Judges wrote: “Excellent job of finding unsung heroes. From maintenance workers at the fair to a 28-year quiet protester. Great job.”
The human interest story told the tale of a Milaca High School student who put a message in a bottle while sailing on Lake Superior. The bottle was found by a man in Michigan. Judges wrote: “What a neat topic! A fun and interesting read. The author went all out on this story, contacting both parties and weaving in history and personal details. Well written with strong narrative and great use of quotes. Good details throughout and a nice ending.”
Hage and former Mille Lacs County Times reporter Ashley Haynes collaborated on the “best use of video” entry that chronicled Princeton Kinship’s Arctic Blast event. Judges wrote: “These interviews were well framed via rule of thirds and had quality audio. The sprinkling of a few news details added to the feel-good nature of the piece.”
Hage’s second-place feature photo entry was from the same Kinship event. It featured Hailey Wheeler after being sprayed with cold water from a fire hose. Judges wrote: “This is a top-notch photo! Loved the expression. A close contender for first place.”
In the third-place sports story, Hage chronicled Milaca High School basketball player Molly Banks’ return to the court and quest for 1,000 points after tearing an ACL. Judges commented: “Enjoyed the comeback story. Found myself rooting for this player.”