UMG journalists shine in Illinois

Even in the midst of difficult contract negotiations at GateHouse Media newspapers, United Media Guild leaders have remained dedicated to practicing outstanding journalism.

Their outstanding performance earned awards from the Illinois Press Association and the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors.

Rockford Register Star unit chair Max Gersh won first-place awards from the Illinois APME for general news photography and feature photography. His news photo of an anxious kindergartner on the first day of school also won the APME photo sweepstakes.

State Journal-Register vice chair Jason Nevel got first place from the IPA for best school board coverage.

Long-time Pekin Daily Times unit chair Sharon Woods Harris won first-place IPA honors for best coverage of taxation.

Gersh’s performance was especially impressive given his difficult working circumstances in Rockford. The UMG filed unfair labor practice charges against Register Star management for its actions against photographers in general and Gersh in particular.

Many other UMG members won awards from the IPA and Illinois APME. Here were just some of the highlights:

The IPA gave first-place honors to Register Star reporter Corina Curry and photographer Brent Lewis (now a Guild member at the Denver Post) in the news reporting series category for “Kylie’s Hand,” the story of a group of Boylan High School students who created an artificial hand for an area girl.

The Illinois APME gave first-place honors to Register Star reporters Chris Green and Georgette Braun for their heroin series that was “well-planned, compellingly written and reported, and beautifully presented . . . in print and online.”

The APME gave first-place honors to Peoria Journal Star reporter Leslie Renken for entertainment writing. Her winning story spotlighted a pageant for girls with special needs.

Journal Star photographer Ron Johnson earned first-place APME and IPA honors in the sports feature photo category.

Journal Star columnist Phil Luciano, UMG’s unit chair in Peoria, earned first-place IPA honors.

Chris Grimm won first place from IPA illustration honors for a depiction of Jimi Hendricks in the Journal Star. The Cue entertainment section, designed by Grimm and Thomas Bruch, earned top honors for lifestyles section.

State Journal-Register sportswriter Dave Kane received a first-place award from the Illinois APME for sports feature writing.

UMG members also won dozens of second-place, third-place and honorable mention citations from the IPA and Illinois APME.