Farm and Dairy newsroom honored for 2020 writing, design

Farm and Dairy staff
Farm and Dairy newsroom staff earned national and regional honors for writing and design. (From left: Rebecca Miller, Sarah Donaldson, Rachel Wagoner, David Hartong and Aimee Tenzek.)

Farm and Dairy newsroom staff earned national and regional accolades for 2020 writing and design projects from the National Newspaper Association, Ohio Society of Professional Journalists and Ohio Associated Press Media Editors.

Dairy Dilemma

The four-week in-depth examination of the U.S. dairy industry, published in January 2020, reported and written by reporter Rachel Wagoner, garnered the top national award for best investigative or in-depth story or series, for non-dailies with circulations of 10,000 or more.

“Amazing accumulation of information about the current state of dairy farming,” wrote the NNA judge. “Good reporting and excellent storytelling.”

The series also earned second place for best trade report, in the Ohio SPJ contest.

For his work designing the series, David Hartong, Farm and Dairy art director, earned second place as the state’s top graphic artist, in the APME contest.

Rachel Wagoner

Wagoner also won the top national award in’s Best Obituary Tribute, for “A dairyman remembered,” an Aug. 6, 2020, profile of the life and memory of Doug Dye, a dairy farmer who died in a tragic accident.

“Beautifully told narrative obituary, with the remembrances of multiple sources woven seamlessly into a recounting that honors the life, as well as reporting on both the death and the aftermath,” the NNA judge wrote.

The profile also earned the top spot as best personality profile in trade publications, from Ohio SPJ.

“Excellent profile of a man … remembered by his family, friends and the community as they grapple with his loss,” writes the SPJ judge. “The writer did an excellent job balancing technical background with emotional memories of Doug Dye.”

Sarah Donaldson

Reporter Sarah Donaldson earned top national honors for “‘One extreme after another’: Climate change forces region’s ag sector to adjust practices,” published Oct. 22, 2020. The final story of “The Cost of Food” series, it won best agricultural story category, for newspapers, daily or non-daily, with 6,000 circulation or more.

“In a world where climate change is debated daily, who better than to talk to people who must deal with the climate to grow the nation’s food supply?” wrote the NNA judge. “Very enlightening work that draws on facts, science and the observations of those living close to the land about how farmers are adjusting.”

The story also edged out “Dairy Dilemma” for best trade report from Ohio SPJ. “I learned so much from this publication,” the SPJ judge wrote. “Very nice layout and great reporting.”

Donaldson’s article, “Dad’s hands and feet: Family rallies around father with disease,” published June 18, 2020, won first place from SPJ, for best general story in trade publications. The story was about Chip Benton, an ag mechanic whose family rallied around him after he was diagnosed with a neurological disease.

“A beautifully told story of family, love and doing what needs to be done when life presents you with challenges,” the SPJ judge wrote. “The piece does a great job of bringing out small moments to help the reader connect to the family being profiled, but never loses sight of the overall narrative. Nicely done.”

Rebecca Miller

Rebecca Miller, editor-in-chief, earned second place from both NNA and SPJ in serious column writing. The NNA category evaluates all publications with circulations of 12,000 or more. SPJ’s category covers trade publications.

Graphic design

David Hartong, art director, and Aimee Tenzek, managing editor, earned accolades in the Associated Press Media Editors’ 2020 contest, out of more than 1,400 entries judged.
In addition to being honored for his work on “Dairy Dilemma,” Hartong joined Tenzek in earning second for best full page design.

“The illustration and use of colors tell the story before reading the first word,” the APME judge wrote. “The page is clean and beautiful and sure to make any reader want to grab the paper off the shelf.”

There were a total of 1,409 editorial and advertising entries in the NNA contest, with a total of 509 awards given to 83 member newspapers, in 33 states. In the SPJ contest, there were 255 awards, out of 580 entries. The contest is sponsored by the Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus chapters of the organization. The APME contest featured 1,418 submissions from 52 newspapers.


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