David Phillips
David Phillips

Spring Valley Tribune editor Dave Phillips, who is also publisher of the Bluff Country Newspaper Group, won two awards in the annual Better Newspaper Contest of the Minnesota Newspaper Association last week.

Phillips took second place in the category of feature photo for a shot of a youth throwing a football into a large hoop during halftime at a Kingsland Knights game while his friends observed.

“Beautiful frame with a great look at five faces, none of them really obstructed,” wrote the judges in their comments on the award. “That the ball was framed inside the hula hoop was great timing and a good placement of the photographer. Really fun shot.”

Phillips won an award in this category last year with a photo of two graduates celebrating their achievement.

He also took second place this year in the category for portrait and personality photos with a shot of Laura Perez-Nichols modeling in a pinup show during the Fins and Films event in Spring Valley last summer.

 “This is a great photo,” wrote the judges. “She really stands out in the red dress.”

This is the ninth consecutive year the Bluff Country Newspaper Group has won awards in the annual Better Newspaper Contest. Staff members have won 40 awards since 2009.

Newspapers are divided into classes based on circulation and frequency of publication. Most entries for Bluff Country Newspaper Group were in the class of small weeklies. The small weeklies class has some newspapers from large communities, such as Stillwater, population of 18,225. The Stillwater Gazette was named the top overall weekly newspaper in the contest.

The contest also judges college newspapers and the Rochester Community and Technical College Echo won five awards, including general excellence, which is noteworthy because the competition includes four-year colleges. Editor of the college newspaper is Spring Valley Tribune columnist Lydia Hansen, who accepted the general excellence award at the convention.

The Post Bulletin of Rochester was named the top daily newspaper at the convention.

More than 4,000 entries were submitted in the 2016-17 Better Newspaper Contest. Entries were judged by working newspaper staff members in Illinois.

The 151st annual Minnesota Newspaper Association convention was held in the Twin Cities last week. Phillips, along with the co-editors of the Spring Grove Herald, Jordan Gerard and Megan Warner, attended the convention, which provided many training sessions and discussion roundtables on topics pertinent to community newspapers.