A photographer and a reporter for the Sartell-St. Stephen and St. Joseph Newsleaders were honored with state awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest for work done in 2022.
Carolyn Bertsch, the Newsleaders’ assignment editor and chief photographer, won second and third place in the “Feature Photo” category. It was her second consecutive statewide win. Last year, she won first place in that same category.
Dennis Dalman, reporter/columnist/editorial writer, won second place in the “Columns” category and third place in the “Human-Interest Story” category.
The Newsleader contest entries were submitted in the category of non-daily newspapers with circulations of more than 7,000. All entries were judged by members of the Kansas Press Association.
The awards were announced at the MNA’s annual awards banquet and convention Jan. 27 in Brooklyn Park.
Bertsch’s award-winning photo was of a dog enjoying a “pup cup” treat in the drive-through lane of Second Street Coffee Shop in Sartell. It was published in the Feb. 4, 2022 issue of the Sartell-St. Stephen Newsleader. The photo’s cutline (caption) stated “Caleb Schneider, 15, of Sartell, serves Amy Brinkerhoff’s whoodle, a wheaten terrier-poodle mix named Duke, a cup of whipped cream Jan. 31 from the drive-through window. Brinkerhoff is also of Sartell. Second Street Coffeehouse owner Meghan Kelsey says, ‘Our staff loves it when dogs visit our drive through!’’’
The judge’s comment: “Cute picture. I liked the facial expression of the owner and the enjoyment of the whoodle. Nice composition and focus.”
The other photo honored was of a young girl pulled on a huskey dog sled during Tails on Trails Feb. 27, 2022 at Millstream Park in St. Joseph.
Bertsch, a Sartell resident, has been a Newsleader staff member for nine years.
“I was surprised to learn that I won again,” Bertsch said. “ It is humbling to be recognized like this in the company of so many other talented and deserving news photographers. I am encouraged and will continue to give my best to my publisher and our readers.”
Dalman’s winning column was headlined with “Tangle of Lies could end democracy.” The theme of the column was that baseless claims of massive voter fraud, lunatic conspiracy theories and purposeful disinformation (much of it coming from political demagogues) is undermining people’s crucial faith in foundational democratic institutions.
The judge’s comment: “Excellent commentary on important national issues.”
Dalman’s winning feature story was headlined with “After half a century, gnome comes home.” It was about a Sartell couple, Suzanne and Jack Toftey, who had hand-crafted a yard gnome about 50 years ago. Shortly thereafter, it was stolen from their yard. Nearly five decades later, the couple happened to see their long-gone gnome at a decorative display outside a record shop and were able to welcome it back home where it belongs, thanks to a “surprise” sprung by their good neighbors.
The judge’s comment: “How amazing and wonderful that this family was able to have their treasured decoration back. After reading through the (contest’s) stories, there were so many that I wish could be given first place. Minnesota has some amazing writers, and I feel I have learned much that will make me a better writer from reading them.”
Dalman has worked for the Newsleaders for 24 years.
“I love my job, I work hard, so it’s always gratifying when my work is honored by newspaper peers,” he said.
To read Dalman’s award-winning articles, visit thenewsleaders.com.