Gazette staffers perform well in Michigan AP awards

Reporters and a photographer from The Daily Mining Gazette performed well in several categories in the Michigan AP Editorial Association awards announced Thursday. Competing in Division I with other newspapers having circulations up to 15,000, the Gazette won five shield-shaped plaques including four 1st place finishes, according to The Associated Press.

Former sports writer Kevin Colbert and I won first place in sports enterprise reporting. Our series of stories covered the death and resurrection of the Michigan Tech University football team in March 2003.

I’m very excited to win a first-place award to recognize all the effort Kevin and I put into the series. There was a lot of research combined with breaking news pressures in those 15 days last March.

This marks my first “number one” win in the AP awards. During the past three years, I’ve won a third-place and a second-place shield. By the way, all the award-winning stories will shortly be posted on

Other Gazette staffers received the following kudos:

— Former staff writer Zac Anderson won first place in enterprise reporting for The Final Bell looking at the final days of a small, rural high school.

— The paper’s sports staff earned first place mention in sustained coverage of a single sports event for covering the Professional Walleye Trail championship. Writers included Kevin Colbert, Jim Junttila, Garrett Neese and Erik Johns.

— Former Chief Photographer Michele Jokinen’s photo of a fire in Ripley won first place for news picture.

— Anderson and Neese received a third-place award in sustained coverage of a single news event for their series on the “school funding crisis.”

While the Gazette didn’t win the most awards in our division — that honor goes to the Petoskey News-Review and their eight plaques — we did win the most first-place mentions. The Luddington Daily News and the Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant won three apiece.

The Gazette’s sister papers in Iron Mountain and Alpena each picked up two awards. The sweepstakes winners in newswriting will be announced next week.

The awards will be presented at the annual banquet May 8 at the Lansing Sheraton. Of course, due to the distance between Houghton and Lansing, Gazette staffers don’t frequently attend. Instead, Gazette faithful flock to the paper’s annual Christmas party where the awards are handed out like tasty holiday treats.