Once again you will have to pardon me as I toot our own horn this week.
One of the highlights of attending the Minnesota Newspaper Association's annual convention is the awards ceremony held Thursday night, Jan. 24.
This year the Faribault County Register once again won some awards in the newspaper association's 'Better Newspaper Contest.'
Five in all.
Considering there are 350 newspapers in the state of Minnesota who sent in 3,591 entries into the contest, winning an award is no easy task.
As you see elsewhere in this week's newspaper, the Register won a first place for Advertising Excellence, second place for our 'Our Heroes' magazine and third place for General Excellence.
In addition, staffer Kristin Woodwick won second place for Best Institutional Advertisement and yours truly a second place for Best Feature Photo.
Competition for awards is fierce. I think I know the reason for that.
Newspapers in general, across the state, put out some excellent products, better than they ever have in the past.
Years ago, back when Shep was a pup and I started in this biz, there were a dozen or so of what I would term 'exceptional' newspapers in Minnesota.
Now there a couple of hundred. Even smaller weekly newspapers are doing some wonderful things with digital photography, investigative reporting and beautiful feature story writing.
If you want to compete in the Minnesota Better Newspaper Contest, you better bring your 'A' game.
The Register has tried to do just that. Not just to win an award or two, but our staff here is dedicated to putting out the best quality newspaper we can each week for you, our readers.
Winning an award tells us we are on the right track. Hearing from our subscribers gets us motivated to do even better.
This is, of course, not the first time the Register has been an award winner. We have won awards most years.
That can be attributed to one thing we are blessed with an excellent staff of hard working and dedicated people.
This is not the first time the Register has won an award for Advertising Excellence, General Excellence or for our 'Our Heroes' magazine.
(Just to make a clarification on the award for "Our Heroes.' The award was not for this past November's Heroes with the baby on the cover. It was for the year before, because the contest runs from Oct. 1 of one year to Sept. 30 of the next.)
We are all pretty excited about winning those three awards as they go to the staff and exemplify the great group effort that goes on here at the Register.
From our publisher and editor, to our writers, advertising sales persons, graphic designers, circulation and office managers, running this 'business' is not an easy task and takes a pretty good-sized effort.
I think the award for General Excellence is especially rewarding to us.
It covers all aspects of the newspaper the stories and photos, the headlines and design, the ads and special sections.
It is the last category to be presented at the awards ceremony and is a very coveted recognition.
The Register won in the General Excellence category in 1992 and 1995. Staff members from the newspaper during those years are to be commended for their awards.
Our current staff is pretty happy and proud that we have been recognized again as one of the best newspapers in the state.
What is next?
Well, we certainly don't plan on resting on our laurels. While five awards is nice, more would be even nicer.
So, our immediate plans are to continue to improve what we are doing. But, we will try and 'ratchet' it up a bit, raise it up a notch, aim a little higher.
What that means for our readers is a continuation of great local news stories, interesting features about your friends and neighbors, even better photographs, more award winning advertising designs, even more special sections.
And a promise to keep on trying to bring you the best local newspaper we can each and every week.
Of course, we would be trying to do that whether we won any awards or not.
But, it is certainly nice to have those efforts recognized by our peers.