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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Week wins three state journalism awards

Considering the hotly contested primary races for the Walworth County Board, the announcement last weekend that Mike Heine won an award for reporting on local government seems particularly timely.

Heine's coverage of the Walworth County Board downsizing debate earned third place honors at last weekend's Wisconsin Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest.

The contest was held as part of the WNA convention at the Kalahari convention center in the Wisconsin Dells.

The award was one of three The Week received.

Heine also received second place in interpretive reporting for his package, "Broken trust," which examined how the August, 2006 raid on Star Packaging in Whitewater affected how members of the community perceived each other.

The Week's advertising and creative design departments also won a second place for best advertising sales tool for our special section, Feel Well. This year's section is HERE. The section highlighted businesses and services related to health and fitness in Walworth County.

For Heine's coverage of the Walworth County Board downsizing debate, judges from the Michigan Press Association poured over stories from four editions that spanned six months.

In February, Heine's cover story, "One size doesn't fit all," examined the size and make-up of other county boards, and how Walworth County might fare under similar setups.

In March, prior to the vote, Heine compiled a package of interviews where various interested parties explained their positions for and against the move to downsize the number of seats on the board from 25-11.

Then, in July, Heine wrote two stories covering the fallout from the vote, which some said led to the ouster of Supervisor Ann Lohrmann from her position as Walworth County Board chairperson.

The final chapter of that story will be written April 1 when voters chose the 11 members who will make up the leaner Walworth County Board.

It may be beneficial to others to go back and see how the predictions of 2007 play out in 2008.

Heine's coverage of the raid of a packaging business in Whitewater also looked at issues from a variety of perspectives.

Some said the raid targeted immigrants, others said was the result of an identity theft investigation.

In any case the raid raised suspicions about law enforcement among members of the large Hispanic community in Whitewater.

Heine's coverage examined why the raid led to suspicion and the Whitewater police department's ongoing efforts to bridge the gap in perceptions.

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