The Idaho Press has been named Idaho’s best daily print news paper for the second year in a row.
The Idaho Press and its weekly publications earned 45 awards in the Idaho Press Club’s Best of 2020 statewide contest. The awards were announced Saturday in an online contest reveal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The contest, which was judged by journalists from around the country, received more than 1,000 entries across all divisions and categories.
In addition to its top award for its daily print publication, which is now the state’s largest circulation, the Idaho Press also received a second place honor for its website, idahopress.com.
“I’m so proud of our team’s coverage during one of the most difficult years many of us have ever seen,” Idaho Press Managing Editor Holly Beech said. “I’m thankful we were able to be an important resource for trusted information and a place of humanity, where people could connect with others in times of grief, uncertainty and celebration. Our work that earned recognition — from covering local legislative races to localizing national issues to sharing heart-filled columns — highlighted the irreplaceable role a local newspaper plays in a community.”
Idaho Press President and Publisher Matt Davison highlighted the quality of work which came during the novel coronavirus pandemic and noted that 2020 was the most challenging year he’d experienced in his 25 years in the newspaper industry.
“COVID-19 required every member of our team to make massive modifications to their normal work environment without ever slowing down. To see this team produce such incredible work under extremely difficult circumstances is just amazing,” Davison said. “I’m am so proud of the work our team produced and hope our readers appreciate the efforts that they continue to make to bring the best local news to the pages of the Idaho Press.”
Longtime political reporter Betsy Z. Russell received four awards including first-place honors for specialty column with her “Eye on Boise” column and in elections reports with her article “Dems have a big primary race in Boise’s North End.” She also received third-place recognition in the Reporter of the Year (print) category.
Boise State sports beat writer B.J. Rains also earned a pair of first-place accolades: one for his shared reporting with Don Day of BoiseDev.com on former Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin efforts to push the school to leave the Mountain West Conference and another for the special purpose website Blueturfsports.com.
The Latino Card podcast by the Idaho Press earned a first place award in the “Interview — Audio” category and two third place awards.
Photo editor Brian Myrick and photographer Jake King won a combined seven awards with King earning first-place honors in sports news category and second place in the photo essay category, an award he shared with Myrick, and Myrick placing third in the Photographer of the Year balloting.
Reporters Ryan Suppe, of the Meridian Press, and Blake Jones, of the Kuna Melba News, took a combined three first-place awards in the weekly category with Jones earning top honors in election reporting and education reporting, a category where Suppe received second and third place, and Suppe placing first in the light feature category. Suppe, now an Idaho Press reporter, took first in the light feature category, and a second in light features in the daily division.
Jones finished second in the Rookie of the Year category.
Awards earned by the Idaho Press and its weekly publications include:
CATEGORY: DAILY PRINT
General excellence: 1st place
General news story: 3rd place — Margaret Carmel, Olivia Heersink, Thomas Plank, Tommy Simmons, Rachel Spacek, “A word with Treasure Valley residents, leaders, and police on the ‘defund the police’ movement”
Watchdog/investigative report: 3rd place — Olivia Heersink, “Inmates concerned with conditions at Cottonwood prison”
Serious feature: 2nd place — Tommy Simmons, “What the American flag means to Idaho”
Light feature: 2nd place — Ryan Suppe, “Idaho Falls dairy employs modern-day milkmen in the Treasure Valley”; 3rd place — Jeanne Huff, “How do you say goodbye?”
Sports news: 1st place — Don Day, BoiseDev, and B.J. Rains, “Time for Statue Left Part 2: Emails show Harsin pushed to leave Mtn. West; BSU engaged with conferences”
Sports prep story: 3rd place — John Wustrow, “Parma quarterback Isaiah Krohn thriving after a childhood in Ethiopia”
Specialty column: 1st place — Betsy Z. Russell, “Eye on Boise”; 3rd place — Jeanne Huff, “Grief”
Political report: 2nd place — Betsy Z. Russell, “Far-right lawmakers to try to hold own special session, despite the law, Constitution”; 3rd place — Betsy Z. Russell, “Lt. Gov. McGeachin promotes ‘walk-thru disinfectant cubes’ to fight COVID-19”
Elections report: 1st place — Betsy Z. Russell, “Dems have a big primary race in Boise’s North End”; 3rd place — Rachel Spacek, “What does the Latino vote look like in Idaho?”
Agriculture report: 3, Rachel Spacek, “Amid national debate to limit work visa program, Idaho ranchers say H-2A crucial to industry”
Crime / courts report: 2nd place — Tommy Simmons, “KOA shooting was Boise officer’s 5th”
Environment report: 3rd place — Ashley Miller, “America’s nuclear past threatens Idaho’s future”
Special Section: 2nd place — Sports staff, “Sports Stars”; 3rd place — Sports staff, “Fall Football Preview”
Rookie of the Year: 2nd place — Blake Jones
General excellence (daily): 2nd place — staff, idahopress.com
Best online-only video – feature story: 2nd place — Ashley Miller, Rachel Spacek, “Our Idaho”
Website / special purpose (daily): 1st place — B.J. Rains, “Blueturfsports.com”
Light feature: 2nd place — Brian Myrick, “Quarantine Trampoline”; 3rd place — Jake King, “Balkan Ballerina”
Serious feature: 2nd place — Jake King, “Through the Looking-Glass”
Sports news: 1st place — Jake King, “On the Edge”
Photo essay: 2nd place — Jake King, Brian Myrick, “Floyd Vigil”
Photo package: 3rd place — Brian Myrick, “Make-A-Wish Dream”
CATEGORY: WEEKLY NEWSPAPER
General excellence (print): 2nd place — The Meridian Press
Watchdog/ investigative report: 2nd place — Blake Jones, Tommy Simmons, Kuna-Melba News, “Former Idaho prison nurse: Medical staff ‘not following proper infection controls’ amid pandemic”
Light Feature: 1st place — Ryan Suppe, The Meridian Press, “Longtime broadcaster shares collection of 100 vintage radios”
Political report: 3rd place — Blake Jones, Kuna-Melba News, “Property tax bill is ‘a thought grenade’”
Election report: 1st place — Blake Jones, Kuna-Melba News, ‘Kuna’s Rural Fire District’s levy failed. Now what?”; 2nd place — Blake Jones, Kuna-Melba News, “The suffragettes haven’t finished”
Education report: 1st place — Blake Jones, Kuna-Melba News, “Idaho school boards are chasing impact fees, but political challenges remain”; 2nd place — Ryan Suppe, The Meridian Press, “How Meridian and West Ada are working together to address growth”; 3rd place — Ryan Suppe, The Meridian Press, “36-year Meridian educator reflects on career following retirement”
CATEGORY: ALL MEDIA
Reporter of the Year (Publication): 3rd place — Betsy Z. Russell
Photographer the Year (Publication): 3rd place — Brian Myrick
Special coverage: 2nd place — The Idaho Press, “A day in the life of Idaho during the pandemic”
Mid-career scholarship winner — Rachel Spacek, Idaho Press
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article listed the wrong placing for the Idaho Press photo essay award.