Daily Chronicle takes six 1st place finishes in 2020 IPA awards

Daily Chronicle earns 22 awards from the Illinois Press Association’s 2020 newspaper contest

The Daily Chronicle earned 22 awards, including six first-place awards for coverage of Sycamore’s water crisis, homelessness in DeKalb County public schools, DeKalb housing and sports, from the Illinois Press Association for work completed in 2020.

The full awards lists, along with sweepstakes and general excellence awards, will be announced and awarded at the IPA’s virtual convention May 7.

The Chronicle earned 22 awards total, including nine for photo editor Mark Busch’s photojournalism, and a three-win sweep by Chronicle reporters for investigative journalism in the Freedom of Information Act award category.

Coverage by editor Kelsey Rettke and government and breaking news reporter Katie Finlon shed light on Sycamore’s water woes, including continued complaints by Sycamore residents that reported brown water is not safe to drink, concerns of lead in the water, a class action lawsuit facing the City of Sycamore as a result and denial by city officials that the water is unsafe. Rettke and Finlon’s work earned first place in the FOIA category, and second place for government beat reporting.

Busch took first in the sports photo category for his coverage of a Chicago Bears game touchdown.

Sports editor Eddie Carifio earned first place in the sports section category for his work covering high school and Division 1 collegiate athletics for the Daily Chronicle. Former sports reporter Kaleb Carter took first in the sports news category for his coverage of three DeKalb wrestlers placing second for the record-setting Barbs.

Finlon earned first place in public information journalism for her work covering the DeKalb City Council’s steps to approve a special service area for rental properties on the north side owned by the city’s largest and most controversial landlord, Hunter Properties, including coverage of the landlord rejecting the proposal.

Rettke also took first in the feature writing category for her pre-pandemic coverage of homelessness on the rise in DeKalb County public schools.

Carifio and Rettke’s work delving into COVID-19 outbreaks at four local long-term care facilities earned second place in the FOIA category. Carifio also received recognition in the FOIA category for his reporting on the DeKalb County Health Department’s virus mitigation strategy as it related to the indoor dining ban.

Shaw Media lifestyle editor and MidWeek editor Inger Koch was awarded for her page design work for the Shining Bright section.

Busch’s other eight awards included recognition for his coverage of high school sports, the sentencing of a former firefighter found guilty in the DUI-death of late DeKalb senior Johnathon Ode, and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations this past summer across DeKalb County, including a portrait series highlighting local leaders.

Rettke and Carifio also received a community service award for a COVID-19 data series examining how the DeKalb County Health Department tracked COVID-19 cases, complaints and viral spread.

Carifio was also recognized for his regional business reporting on the ‘completely unexpected’ increase in pawn shop sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Shaw Media senior production editor Eric Olson and Rettke earned an award for their reporting on Ohio man Jonathon Hurst, charged with murder in the brutal double homicide of a Sycamore mother and son.

Rettke was also recognized for her editorial work, including a column on the death of former Daily Chronicle editor Barry Schrader.