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In Focus

I have a bone to pick with the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA).

Last week, I was able to attend the two-day MNA convention and I received five photography awards from the Better Newspaper Contest. While I was elated to have received these awards, nobody had seen the winning entries.

For years, MNA produced a book with the winners listed inside with snapshots of the winners’ works. They also had boards set up with every winning entry printed out and hung for everyone to see. That was the highlight of the convention for me, seeing the winning works, and learning from them. I also took notes on what to try to make our own newspaper even better.

Since the pandemic moved everything online in 2020, I honestly don’t think anyone paid much attention to who won what and why. And the infamous book was not printed. Last year, we were finally back in person, but not many attended. One large company banned their employees from attending due to the ongoing pandemic, so it was much, much smaller. Also, none of the winning items were displayed.

Originally, you’d have to attend the convention in person, get the book and see what place you won and for what. This year was different. I got an email, as did everyone else, and all the winners were posted online the day before the convention. Well, that was nice to actually know the winners beforehand. At the awards banquet, there was a printout of the award winners, mainly to follow along with, but still no sight of the winning entries themselves.

I have scoured the website and nothing. How are we supposed to appreciate the competition and learn from each other when it is a complete mystery?

Otherwise, the convention was great. I learned some new things from the seminars and made some more connections. I wish to congratulate everyone on their awards and the Pine Knot News in Cloquet for winning the Mills Trophy for the third year in a row. The Mills Trophy is given to an individual newspaper based on a points system which is calculated according to the number of awards they received.


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