Yellowstone County News won thirteen awards in the Montana Better Newspaper Contest which were presented at The Montana Newspaper Association’s annual convention in Helena last Friday and Saturday.

The event brings together newspaper publishers, reporters, designers, advertisers and marketers from across the state to discuss the state of their industry, compare notes and share ideas. Weeks ahead of the convention, statewide daily and weekly newspapers submit the best of their work in the past year to be judged by industry leaders in other states.

Yellowstone County News publisher, Jonathan McNiven, was also voted onto the Montana Newspaper Association’s board of directors for a three year term. He already serves of the Association’s Advertising Services Board of Directors.

In Division 3, Yellowstone County News took the first place award in five categories: Jonathan McNiven and Elisa Schlosser won the top award for Best Marketing Campaign; Elisa Schlosser won the Best Ad to Sell or Promote Merchandise Black and White award; Jonathan McNiven won the Best Breaking News Photo, Best Digital Presentation and Best Video.

Elisa Schlosser won second place for the Best Graphic and the Best Ad to Sell or Promote Services Black and White award. Jonathan McNiven won second place for Best Website. Evelyn Pyburn won second place for Best Headline Writing and third for Best Editorial. Michael Marino won third place for Best Headline Writing. David Crisp took third place for Best Column Writing. And, the Yellowstone County News Staff won second place for the Best Niche Publication.

This year’s top newspapers in Montana—winning the General Excellence Award — are: the Boulder Monitor, Choteau Acantha, Belgrade News, Havre Daily News and the Billings Gazette.

Among other awards, The Belgrade News was awarded the Thomas Dimsdale Award for the Best Montana Weekly Newspaper.

Thomas Dinsdale is noted as Montana’s first newspaper editor, who made an amazing impact on the state given that he died at the early age of 35. He was editor of The Montana Post, from September 17, 1864 until August 30, 1866 when ill health forced him to resign. He is probably best known as the author of “Vigilantes of Montana.”

The Mel Ruder Photograph of the Year award was presented to Amy Nelson of the Billings Gazette. Ruder was a Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer who founded the Hungry Horse News in Columbia Falls, in 1946, and served as its publisher until 1978, when he sold it. Ruder died in 2000 at the age of 85.

The Billings Gazette was awarded the Sam Gilluly Award for the Best Montana Daily Newspaper. Gilluly was born in Billings in 1908 and followed in his father’s footsteps, who was a pioneering Montana newsman. Gilluly served for 28 years as editor of the Glasgow Courier. He served as Executive Director of the Montana Newspaper Association from 1974 through 1978.

The Montana Newspaper Association, of which Brian Allfrey is Executive Director, also recognized other outstanding leaders in the newspaper industry. Charles “Chuck” Johnson, a veteran Montana reporter for 45 years, was named to the Montana Newspaper Association’s Hall of Fame. Johnson unexpectedly died in March at age 74. He was known as the “dean of the capitol press corps,” and Gov. Greg Gianforte called him “a giant in political journalism.”

The recognition comes of a life time of reporting on Montana politics, government and culture and his mentoring of many young journalists. In May 2022, Johnson received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Montana State University. At the time of his death a local news report stated that “he had covered 22 Montana legislative sessions, seven governors, nine U.S. senators and 10 U.S. representatives, in addition to countless state legislators, elections, conventions and policies.”

The 2023 Master Editor & Publisher award was presented to Jacques Rutten, who in 2022 was named Regional Editor for Yellowstone Group Newspapers by Adams Publishing Group which acquired that group of newspapers in the past year. Prior to that Rutten was editor and publisher of the News-Argus in Lewistown, where he first began working as a sports reporter in 1997. Edward Renaud was presented with the 2023 Dick Crockford Distinguished Service Award.  Renaud is the Regional Production Manager for the Yellowstone Group Newspapers since its purchase by Adams Publishing Group in 2022. He is noted as a dedicated pressman and became Pressroom Foreman in 2004 and then Production Manager for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.


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