Somali grad photo column earns Pelican Press honors, Awards presented at annual newspaper convention
Bravo to this newspaper … as a megaphone to call out a racist commenter and defend their community. The paper then parlayed the resulting exposure they received to help promote an upcoming festival that celebrates diversity. A true win for the community.
Judges comments, Better Newspaper Contest
A widely circulated column about a bigoted social media post garnered the Pelican Rapids Press honors at the annual Minnesota Newspaper Association convention.
A Facebook reader took issue with the Press last June, because a standard array of photos from the Pelican Rapids High School graduation included Somali students. Pictures were published in the print newspaper, and online on the Press website and Facebook.
The Facebook comment accused the Press of being “Anti-American” for the photos of Somali students…referring to them as “ragheads.”
The column written in response, and the subsequent newspaper, broadcast, website and social media exposure spread essentially to an international audience.
Managing editor Louis Hoglund was presented a “Friend of Minnesota Newspaper Award” for “supporting an open exchange of viewpoints” and a “powerful response to a hateful comment.”
The episode also earned Hoglund and staff member Sara Brosowske a first place award for “Best Use of Social Media,” competing against all weekly newspapers across the state.
“Humbled” was Hoglund’s response to the honors. He explained that, one of the main motivations for writing the column was to publicize the upcoming Pelican “Friendship Festival” multicultural celebration. The international exposure was “overwhelming” and unexpected, he said.
In accepting the award, Hoglund invited the audience to attend the ethnic diversity festival, set June 20 this summer.
The Press also received a first place award for its Editorial pages.
A third place award was presented for “Best Use of Photography.”
An article written after the funeral of Faith Westby earned the Press third place for “Human Interest Story.” A Pelican high school student who died after lifelong health and disability challenges, Faith’s funeral was one of the largest ever in Pelican Rapids.
“Here’s an article about the impact in a community of a young person with disabilities, reported from the funeral, using the words of people who spoke about her,” commented the judges. “…the article seemed to capture a young life gone too soon and the effects she had on the community.”
The Press competes against similar-sized weekly newspapers from across the state, in the 1,500 to 3,000 circulation class.
The annual Minnesota Newspaper Association convention was held in the Twin Cities Jan. 30-31.