Daily Chronicle earns 20 awards from Illinois Press Association for 2021 journalism

Photo Editor Mark Busch earns two first-place prizes for photojournalism in 2021 from state newspaper contest

Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy

The Daily Chronicle earned 20 awards, including two first-place awards for Photo Editor Mark Busch, from the Illinois Press Association for work completed in 2021.

The Daily Chronicle was among 12 Shaw Local News Network publications that earned a combined 73 awards from the IPA for 2021 reporting and photojournalism, according to an announcement Friday.

Busch took top spots for his coverage of DeKalb’s first Pride parade and a sports photo of former Bears head coach Matt Nagy during a game against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 5.

Editor Kelsey Rettke and former Daily Chronicle reporter Katie Finlon earned second place among all divisions in the Public Notice Journalism category for their coverage of issues surrounding the DeKalb city clerk. Finlon also took second for her localized look at a national topic, interviewing DeKalb County-area veterans after the U.S’s military exit in Afghanistan.

Rettke and Finlon took second in the Freedom of Information Act category for their reporting of 33-year-old Kristopher Kramer, who was fatally shot by DeKalb police officer Brian Bollow in October 2021. Public records obtained by the Daily Chronicle through the Freedom of Information Act showed Kramer had a history of police encounters in DeKalb before his death.

Including his two first-place awards, Busch’s photojournalism earned eight awards total, among them second place for his photo series on Waterman’s SummerFest. Busch took four third-place awards: one each for his photo series after multiple tornadoes ripped through DeKalb County in August 2021, his portrait of local veterans attending a memorial vigil at the DeKalb County Courthouse, his sports photo of the Kaneland softball team celebrating a victory, and a sports personality portrait of Sycamore High School football coach Joe Ryan.

Busch captured a fourth-place prize for his photo series on area churches reopening as COVID-19 restrictions lifted in spring 2021.

US Army Veteran Ronald Slavenas listen to speakers Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, during the opening ceremony for the 24-hour Veterans Vigil in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore. The vigil runs from 3:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, through 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6. A veteran will be standing guard at the courthouse during those hours in honor of the upcoming Veterans Day.

Sports Editor Eddie Carifio earned two second-place prices: one each for his special section previewing the IHSA State Football Championships in DeKalb in November and one for best overall sports section in the division.

Former Daily Chronicle and MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton earned third place in the Distinguished Coverage of Diversity category for her reporting on several topics, including a feature on Burmese Karen Refugees in Illinois, a feature on area nonprofit Sir Donald Foundation Inc., the 50th anniversary of Northern Illinois University’s Center for Black Studies and the opening of the Northern Illinois University exhibit “Faces of Belonging.”

Rettke’s coverage of the omicron variant of COVID-19 surging in DeKalb County earned a fourth-place award for community service reporting.

Rettke and Finlon earned fourth place for their government beat reporting on the city of DeKalb’s purchase of Hunter Properties buildings as part of a settlement with the embattled landlord.

Finlon and Milton’s obituary feature on the death of former DeKalb Mayor Bessie Chronopoulos earned them a fourth-place prize for obituary tributes.

Finlon’s feature on Chubbs, a Genoa barn cat who found fame during the pandemic, earned fourth place in the feature-writing personality category.

Rettke and Finlon’s reporting on solar farms stirring up controversy amid a months-long DeKalb County Board debate earned them a fourth-place prize for the agricultural series.

And Milton and Rettke earned a fourth-place Robert M. Cole Award for Best School Board Coverage for their reporting on COVID-19 quarantine and testing in DeKalb County schools.

The awards will be presented in August during the Illinois Press Association convention in Springfield.

A clarification was made to this article at 1:30 p.m. June 4, 2022, regarding former Daily Chronicle reporter Katie Finlon’s title.