Argus Leader Wins 2021 South Dakota Newspaper Association Awards

Editor’s Note: There’s pride in celebrating, bordering on bragging, and a request to subscribe in advance. Proceed at your own risk.

The Argus Leader has won 29 awards in the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s annual “Better Newspapers” competition. The winners were announced Friday at the band’s convention in Mitchell.

Highlights included wins in public service reporting, the freedom of information project, better use of social media and digital advertising. The Argus competed against every daily newspaper in South Dakota and was judged by reporters from the Washington (State) Newspaper Publishers Association.

We also placed first in the daily contest prize, based on the total number of points accumulated from individual rewards won. It is the equivalent of a team winning an athletics competition: after the medals have been awarded in each individual discipline, the team (or in this case, the new operation) with the most points wins. .

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already a subscriber (thanks!), but if you’re not, here’s a quick fact sheet:

Below is exactly the breadth of journalism, community coverage and storytelling that only the Argus leader provides in our city and region. Scroll and click on the rewards below, then come back here to THIS LINK to start subscribing. Just $1 for six months right now (or if you wait for contextual advertising, you’ll get $49 for an entire year!).

I’m so proud of the work we do and the team that does it. On to the rewards.

Here is the complete list of SDNA awards won by the leader Argus:

Prize draws:

First Place – Staff

Access to Information Project:

First Place – Staff

Series:Child Pornography, Secret Court Proceedings and “Person Involved”

Chief Argus has spent the majority of 2021 (and more than a year in total) under gag order, attending secret, unpublicized court proceedings and ultimately the South Dakota Supreme Court fighting for access to the public record in the federal child pornography investigation of our state’s most prominent businessman and philanthropist, T. Denny Sanford, from the Forbes Global Billionaires List.

A four-state investigation yielded several search warrants, which Chief Argus attempted to obtain, but were sealed.

T. Denny Sanford helps announce a $400 million donation to Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System at the Washington Pavilion February 3, 2007.

After gaining access to this public information in the State Supreme Court, we are still fighting. We are in court for the underlying police affidavits that sparked the investigations, as well as whether that investigation is still ongoing, and what this case means for a region and city that sees the namesake of this man everywhere, from our dominant healthcare system, Sanford Health, to Sioux Falls’ premier athletic and concert venue, the T. Denny Sanford Events Center.

Chief Argus regularly fights these kinds of battles every year, even if it was unprecedented.

Public Service Award:

First Place – Staff

Narrative: Secret ballots on impeachment of the Attorney General

When lawmakers hold a special legislative session in the state of South Dakota, the votes that trigger it can be kept secret.

Or at least they were until Chief Argus got involved.

More than two-thirds of House and Senate members last fall submitted petitions to House leaders calling for a special session to conduct hearings related to the impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who killed a pedestrian with his car in September 2020. But when asked to release copies of the signed petitions, House Speaker Spencer Gosch and the Legislative Research Council denied the request.

House Speaker Spencer Gosch was sworn in Tuesday, Jan. 12, in the House of Representatives at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre.

Gosch said individual lawmakers are free to share with their constituents, the press and the general public whether they’ve signed a petition in favor of a special session, but nothing in the law, he argued, n ‘requiring a full list of petition signatories or the petitions themselves to be made publicly available.

This explanation ignored the reality that petitions are an act of the state legislature prompting legislative action. And any interested parties in the future would need to individually contact 105 lawmakers to find out who supported a special session and who did not.

This caused litigation to force the surrender of the petitions. But before the matter was resolved in court, the Legislative Assembly’s executive council instituted a policy that special session petitions – whether related to Ravnsborg’s impeachment or any other matter – are part of the public archives.

So whether it’s today, tomorrow, or 20 years from now, and regardless of the ability or willingness of lawmakers (if deceased) to publicly share their vote on holding special sessions, there will be a record public thanks to Chief Argus and the common sense of legislative leaders who stood up to their own Speaker of the House. We are also always looking to have the actual status changed additionally.

Best Young Journalist:

Portrait of Erin Woodiel

Erin Woodel.

Excerpt from the appointment letter:

“As with any ‘of the year’ talk, Erin’s nomination comes with so much more than skills in her craft. She is thoughtful, enthusiastic and kind. The kind of colleague and friend who energizes a team and makes the hard work of being a journalist just a little easier knowing she’s on your side.

At this point in my tenure at the Argus Leader, I’ve worked with dozens of young journalists (and plenty of photographers), and few could match Erin Woodiel.” – Cory Myers, News Director .

News photo:

First Place – Erin Woodiel

Jaylee Fallis and L. In The Woods parade with a sign that reads

Government reports:

First Place – Morgan Matzen

Narrative: ‘Left to gossip and nothing’: South Dakota privacy laws prevent families from worrying about teacher discipline

Third place – Makenzie Molnar

Narrative: South Dakota has no consumer protection laws for used car sales. Here’s what you need to know before you buy.

News Series:

First place – Makenzie Molnar and Alfonzo Galvan

Narrative: Smithfield has spent millions on COVID-19 precautions. A year later, workers say it’s not enough.

Second Place – Morgan Matzen

Narrative: South Dakota DOE removed Indigenous subjects from social studies standards ahead of final version

Sports chronicles:

First Place – Michael McCleary for a series of columns including: De Smet’s Kalen Garry scores 87 points, wins the game and makes national headlines in a whirlwind week

Runner Up – Matt Zimmer for columns, including this ode to John Madden after he passed away.

Sports photos:

First Place – Erin Woodiel for O’Gorman Track Burnout

Mahli Abdouch of O'Gorman collapses on a fence as her team celebrates behind her after the 4x400 meters relay during the AA State class track and field meet Saturday May 29 at Woodle Field in Sturgis, South Dakota.  A 0.01 second difference in that final race left O'Gorman and Brandon Valley tied for the team title with 124 points apiece.

Sports report:

First place – Michael McCleary for how Tea Area became a footballing powerhouse

Sports Series:

First Place – Brian Haenchen for ‘Season of Sacrifices’: The Unseen Toll of COVID-19 for High School Athletes on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Second place – Matt Zimmer for an amateur baseball project.

Third place – Alfonzo Galvan for his coverage of the Little League World Series.

Better use of social media:

First Place – Staff

Best Website:

First Place – Staff

Best Special Issue:

First Place – Staff

Best typography/design:

First Place – Staff

Digital advertising:

First Place – Staff

General Excellence:

Second Place – Staff

Feature Profile History:

Runner Up – Erin Woodiel – ‘We Are Your Neighbors’: What’s It Like To Be Transgender Or Non-Binary In South Dakota?

Local column:

Second Place – Perspectives Writing Group, an ongoing series of chronicles of African American, Latina, Native American, South Asian, immigrant and refugee communities in South Dakota.

Third Place – Jonathan Ellis for a series of columns including: Kristi Noem’s aggressiveness in ousting Ravnsborg may have had the opposite effect

Spot News Story:

Third Place – Annie Todd and Alfonzo Galvan for the police shoot and kill a man after an incident of domestic violence.

Feature Series:

Third Place – Staff for Food Taste Testing

Burritos: The best express burrito in Sioux Falls? It’s not Chipotle. And it’s not Giliberto’s.

Pizza: What’s the best pizza in Sioux Falls? You’ll have to get off the main roads for this slice of neighborhood

Chislic: The best chislic in Sioux Falls? It’s from a bar you apparently don’t know enough about

Characteristic (outside profile):

Third Place – Makenzie Molnar for “It Breaks My Heart”: As Sioux Falls engulfs city farms, they’re the last holdouts

Photo series:

Third Place – Erin Woodiel for Tribes welcomes the remains of Rosebud children back to South Dakota.

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