GREENWOOD — The Herald Journal collected 12 journalism awards — including five first-place nods — Saturday in the Hoosier State Press Association’s 2019 Better Newspaper Contest.

The awards were doled out at a luncheon at The Nest in Greenwood, south of Indianapolis.

“The Hoosier State Press Association Foundation Better Newspaper Contest recognizes the excellent journalism practiced in Indiana,” HSPA Executive Director Steve Key said. “At a time when journalism’s importance in our democracy is being challenged, the awards remind readers of the excellent role newspapers play in serving as the voice of a community.”

The HJ took first place for Best Multimedia Story, Best General Commentary, Headline Writing, Best Website and Community Service; and third place in Best In-Depth Story, Best Multiple Picture Group, Best General Commentary, Best Portrait and Best Special Section.

The Herald Journal, which competes in Division I non-dailies less than 2,500 circulation, was second in General Excellence, which totals points earned from first-, second- and third-places finishes.

“We are so pleased to be recognized as one of the best local newspapers for our journalism and marketing options in Indiana. It really shows the hard work that everyone has put toward continuing to provide a high-quality community newspaper in print and online for our readers and business community,” said Greg Perrotto, group publisher for Kankakee Valley Publishing. “We certainly would not have been able to make this possible without the continued support of our local subscribers, readers and advertisers. These awards and recognition ultimately show that the Herald Journal, www.thehj.com and the Weekly Reminder shopping guides are the best local resources for news, information and marketing options in White County and its surrounding communities.”

The HJ was also the runner-up for the Blue Ribbon Award for non-daily newspapers, given as the HSPA’s highest honor based on an overall evaluation of the editorial quality of the newspaper, regardless of circulation size.

“We are very proud that the Herald Journal was honored in so many categories,” said Martin VanEe, vice president of sales for Kankakee Valley Publishing. “Editor Michael Johnson and the team have done a great job in giving this community a truly award-winning newspaper, both in print and online. As a staff, we will continue to work hard to give the Herald Journal readers and advertisers quality products that reach and serve the local community in a way nobody else does.”

The HJ finished behind the Brown County Democrat, which had won the honor six previous times, and ahead of the Corydon Democrat, a 16-time past winner.

“The Herald Journal’s rise as a finalist in the Blue Ribbon Award category for non-dailies is indicative of the effort being made in Monticello to produce an outstanding newspaper,” Key said. “The staff should be proud as it was in the company of two perennial non-daily powerhouses — the Brown County Democrat and the Corydon Democrat.”

Johnson earned firsts in Best Multimedia Story for “Purdue stuns No. 2 Ohio State, 49-20,” and Headline Writing for “Beaver’s Pub is back under new ‘Dam’ name,” “‘Miss Bala’ fumbles during Super Bowl weekend, can’t break ‘Glass’” and “Missing chicken adds to Brookston festival’s suspense.”

Johnson took third place for Best In-Depth Feature, “A dark day in Monticello’s history,” a look back on the 45th anniversary of the deadly Monticello tornado; Best Multiple Picture Group, featuring the Monticello Fire Department’s open house at its new fire station; and General Commentary for columns about a power outage revealing dependency upon electricity, a suggestion for a proper Tyler Trent memorial at Purdue, and the necessity for active shooter training in schools.

Former reporter Jim Wolf took first in General Commentary for his columns about the need to stop for school buses, the cancellation of last year’s Monticello Christmas Parade of Lights, and the behavior of the Wolcott Town Council; and third for General Portrait of a toddler dressed as Cookie Monster for Halloween.

The HJ was honored with a first place for Community Service for guest columnist Lynn Saylor’s ongoing series about opioid and drug abuse/addiction titled, “This one’s for you, Chad”; and for Best Website, www.thehj.com.

“This is quite an accomplishment and reflects upon the overall strength of (the Herald Journal) team,” said White County Economic Development President Randy Mitchell. “From an economic development perspective, site selectors always turn initially to the news media locally in order to gauge the climate and pulse of the community. In this regard, (the HJ) has always treated us in a positive light when reporting on our business attraction and retention activities.”

The HJ also grabbed third place for Best Special Section for its commemorative World War I 100th anniversary publication, authored predominantly by White County Historical Society board president and Herald Journal columnist Kean MacOwan.

All work produced between May 1, 2018, to April 30, 2019, was eligible for entry into the competition and was judged by members of the Minnesota Newspaper Association.