Perry: Focus wins at newspaper contest reflect well on Perham support

J.J. Perry column mug
J.J. Perry, Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus editor

Perham can be proud of its local newspaper.

I can write that today because the Perham Focus was again honored with several awards Thursday, Jan. 30, at the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Convention in Brooklyn Park.

Also, I had nothing to do with most of them, as several entries had been published before I started as editor on June 3 of last year.

In fact, my predecessor, Paula Quam, earned the prestigious Lynn Smith Community Leadership award for the series she spearheaded, “Bricks and Clicks.” The Lynn Smith award is presented to one newspaper, no matter the size or location, to "recognize local leadership initiatives that were encouraged, initiated or promoted by the newspaper," according to the newspaper association.

Former editor Quam beat out a lot of great journalism to get that prize. If you can think of a Minnesota newspaper, Quam's series topped them all.


I was also pleased to see former reporter Carter Jones at the banquet in Brooklyn Park last week. He attended to pick up his third-place prize for the Dave Pyle New Journalist Award. That category, again, was competitive, as the award has only two divisions: daily papers and nondaily papers. Jones was honored in the nondailies category. I was happy to write a nomination letter for him, but his work in Perham spoke for itself.

Being recognized is nice. But these awards have intangible benefits. Lots of reporters gain momentum or energy from the positive feedback. Some earn validation for the work they do, inspiring them to keep pushing.

At the very least, stealing great ideas from other award-winning newspapers isn’t so bad, either. It’s incredible to see what some weeklies are capable of on thin staffs and even thinner budgets.

For a newcomer like me, these stories and images also make a great learning tool. A newspaper sometimes has to be a window into its community, and sometimes a mirror. This paper did that in 2019 ... keeping our local stories "in Focus" (pun intended).

Your support is the biggest award we can receive, however; it is because of you that our journalists can tell these stories.

Thank you.

The awards

Here are the eight awards the Focus took home last week, including three first-place plaques.

The awards in news and advertising are part of the Better Newspaper Contest, and were judged by the Hoosier State Press Association. The Focus competes in the non-dailies, 1,501-3,000 circulation division, unless otherwise noted:


First place

Second place

Third place

  • Dave Pyle New Journalist Award: Carter Jones (all non-dailies)

  • General Reporting: Perham Focus

The Detroit Lakes Tribune, Perham's sister-newspaper, won 16 awards, including four first-place awards, in the non-dailies, 3,001-7,000 circulation division.

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