July 22, 2013

Daily Times Herald reporters won four national newspaper awards for stories published in 2012 about a teen who was paralyzed in a crash, the death of Wall Lake icon Andy Williams, and a tragic house fire that killed four in Lake City.

The National Newspaper Association announced the winners of its Better Newspaper Contest on Friday. The Times Herald's winning stories were selected from a total of nearly 1,800 contest entries from newspapers in at least 41 states.

Among the Times Herald's awards were:

- First place for best breaking news story by a daily newspaper: "Half of a Family Gone" - Reporter Jared Strong's story about a November house fire in Lake City that killed four people, including three young children. A contest judge wrote: "Concise, compelling writing. Strong on human connection with family and responders."

- First place for best feature series by a daily or weekly newspaper with less than 6,000 circulation: "Kenzie's Crash" - Reporter Jared Strong's series of stories about Mackenzie Gorden, a Lake City teen who was paralyzed in a June 2012 crash. The first story of the series also won second place for best feature story among all daily newspapers. Contest judges wrote: "The writer has a very good narrative style making me forget I was reading a newspaper - not much higher compliment possible. ... This series is a glimpse into the event every parent fears. ... The photos are extraordinary, and the layout is inviting."

- Second place for best obituary by a daily or weekly newspaper: "Wall Lake icon passes" - Reporter Douglas Burns' story about Andy Williams, a popular singer and 1960s variety show host of The Andy Williams Show. A judge wrote: "I caught the spirit of Wall Lake and felt very strongly the attraction between the town and its product."

Early this year, the Times Herald was named Newspaper of the Year by the Iowa Newspaper Association. The newspaper won 34 awards in the association's contest.