The Belleville News-Democrat was honored Thursday with 20 awards, including eight first-place awards, for its journalism by the Illinois Press Association and Illinois Associated Press Media Editors.
The awards, for work published in 2022, were presented at the press association’s annual convention in Bloomington.
Here is the work awarded by the Illinois Press Association:
BND reporter Lexi Cortes’ investigation of nursing homes and their oversight, “Southwest Illinois nursing homes with COVID infection errors had same issues for years,” won a first place Knight Chair Award for best investigative or enterprise reporting and a first place community service reporting award.
A contest judge described her work as “a thorough data-driven group of stories into repeated violations and problems in nursing homes that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A strong example of public service journalism.”
“In an absolutely packed (community service reporting) category, the BND’s coverage of nursing homes stands out for its painstakingly collected and constructed database of inspection violations,” another judge wrote of the work. “This is the definition of ‘news you can use,’ and a wonderful example of journalism’s ability to use public records to tell a story — and this newspaper’s ability to bring those records to the public in easily useable and viewable ways. Congrats.”
First place news reporting in a single story for “Family begged for help with son’s mental illness. Now he’s charged with Belleville murder” by BND reporter Teri Maddox.
“A strong, comprehensive look at both a specific tragic situation and the larger issues that it showcases,” a judge wrote. “Great work.”
First place feature writing for “Stag is just a traditional Midwestern beer. Except in Belleville, where it’s a culture.” by BND reporter Teri Maddox.
“This had me with the lead, which I was cautious about being an exaggeration but the story backed it up with the stat about where 90% of Stag is sold,” a judge wrote. “Clearly this has local appeal that a lot of people have bottled-up thoughts about. There’s a danger to overwrite something like this but here details bring the Stag culture and legacy to life.”
First place business or economic reporting for “Clean energy law spells an end to coal in Illinois. Will miners resist or change?” by former BND reporter Kelsey Landis. Landis is now a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“Really thorough look at this issue,” a judge wrote. “I didn’t realize how much coal miners made until this story and the reporter really dove into what they are going to do when those close in the coming decades. Overturned every coal rock in the story. Flowed really well for such a long story, enjoyed it.”
First place spot news photo, first place portrait and first place online photo series or gallery for work by former BND photojournalist Derik Holtmann. Holtmann now is a photographer for University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Second place Knight Chair Award for best investigative or enterprise reporting for “17 people have died on this rural southwestern IL road in 15 years. What’s being done to fix it?” by BND reporter Lexi Cortes.
Second place feature writing for the personality profile “Iconic Clinton County grocery store and butcher shop has closed, but not for long” by BND reporter Teri Maddox.
Second place feature writing for “Meet the centenarian tortoises of the St. Louis Zoo — and the Belleville man who cares for them” by BND reporter Meredith Howard.
Third place feature writing for “A community in East St. Louis is getting its ‘source of fun’ back with a new pool” by former BND reporter DeAsia Paige. Paige is now a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Third place government beat reporting for BND reporter Carolyn P. Smith’s work covering police agencies and the public safety beat. The entry included several articles. Here is a sampling: “DeAngelo Johnson had no enemies, his family said. Who killed the young East St. Louis man?” and “Did East St. Louis cop spray mace on sleeping, jailed teen? Authorities investigate”
“Great coverage of important crime and punishment issues by Smith,” a judge wrote.
Fourth place Knight Chair Award for best investigative or enterprise reporting for “City of Belleville gets stuck with demolition bills after investors neglect homes” by BND reporter Teri Maddox.
Fourth place Maurice Scott Award for best coverage of taxation for “St. Clair County property tax rates are higher due to an exemption. It’s getting worse” by former BND reporter Kelsey Landis.
Fourth place news reporting in a single story for “Parents say videos prove violent treatment of students by Cahokia High School staff” by BND reporter Carolyn P. Smith.
Here is the work awarded by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors:
Second place general news reporting for “‘Everybody is going to die today’: Troy man set woman and duplex on fire, girlfriend says” by BND reporters Teri Maddox and Carolyn P. Smith and BND Senior Editor Todd Eschman.
Second place portrait and third place news photo for work by former BND photographer Derik Holtmann.
Third place public service award for “Southwest Illinois nursing homes with COVID infection errors had same issues for years” by BND reporter Lexi Cortes.