Annie Mehl
Annie Mehl

DES MOINES

Education reporter Annie Mehl is the third Daily Times Herald reporter to earn both of the state’s awards for up-and-coming journalists.

“Extremely well-written stories,” wrote a judge of the Iowa Newspaper Association’s annual awards contest. “A body of work that’s quite impressive for a first-year reporter.”

Mehl won both the Jay P. Wagner Prize for Young Journalists and the Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalist award Friday at a luncheon and evening banquet in Des Moines.

She was lauded by contest judges for her coverage of education, her stories about two grieving parents whose young daughter died and her columns about local churches.

“I didn’t think I would care to read about churches, but I did with these,” a judge wrote for Mehl’s second-place award for Master Columnist.

Mehl, 25, joined the Daily Times Herald in June 2017 after she graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder.

“It’s a defining accomplishment to win both of the Iowa Newspaper Association’s young journalist awards in the same year as Annie just did,” said Douglas Burns, co-owner of the Times Herald. “My old boss, Michael Gartner, a Pulitzer winner, told me something I’ll never forget: ‘It’s great to be good at your career, but even better to be good at your job and nice.’ That’s Annie Mehl. She brings decency and compassion, tenacity and intelligence, and a no-story-is-too-big-or-too-small approach to her role at the newspaper. We are fortunate to have her in both the newspaper and the Carroll-area community. She has an infectious enthusiasm that makes all of us at the Times Herald better. She’s one of my favorite people.”

Mehl said the awards have given her more incentive and confidence to hone her skills as her young career progresses.

“I never imagined I would live in Iowa, let alone in rural Iowa, but moving to Carroll was one of the best decisions I ever made,” Mehl said. “I am so thankful to have such an amazing staff at the Daily Times Herald who always support me while pushing and challenging me as a journalist.”

Other Times Herald staffers who have won both young journalist awards were Editor Rebecca McKinsey and former reporter Audrey Ingram.

For the seventh-straight year, the Times Herald won first place for General Excellence — a prize awarded to the newspaper that fares best in the Iowa Better Newspaper Contests — for daily papers with circulations smaller than 10,000.

Its competitors include newspapers in Ames, Council Bluffs, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Mason City and others.

“The Carroll Daily Times Herald’s strong presence in the annual Iowa Newspaper Association and Associated Press contests is a reflection of the vibrant communities we cover and the enduring support we receive from readers and advertisers and trusted sources,” Burns said. “Our talented writers and designers and advertising professionals deserve their individual honors, to be sure, but we see this as a collective nod to the Carroll area, a region that values a robust newspaper more than the vast majority of communities and counties in Iowa. We will continue to work to earn your trust, as that is the foundation of all we do, the stories we publish, the ads we run — and the awards we receive.”

Reporter Jared Strong won the Harrison “Skip” Weber Investigative Reporting Award for the second-straight year for his articles about a Carroll police officer who was forced to resign amid the Times Herald’s investigation into his relationships with teenage girls and women.