Bulldog Sweeps NINA Pix Gallery Award; 1st in News Site

October 19, 2012

Sweeping the category for on-line photo galleries, The Welles Park Bulldog received four awards from the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association last night in DeKalb, IL.

The Bulldog was also awarded a first place for its website. Described by NINA as a general-excellence award, The Bulldog site was judged on overall content and design, local emphasis, interactivity, ease of navigation and extra features.

Jack Lydon, a citizen journalist, was awarded a first place for a photo gallery. Bulldog photo galleries are often published both on the production site and on Facebook where they have turned into viral shares among local high school athletes.

Lydon said he was stunned by the unexpected award.

Lydon, an attorney by day, was once a candidate for alderman in the 47th Ward. He is the President of the Neighborhood Boys and Girls Club. He has been shooting high school sporting events for The Bulldog nearly since it was founded.

“We’re so happy Jack’s work was recognized,” Bulldog photo editor Jane Rickard said. “He didn’t know how good he was. Now he has independent recognition of his skills.”

It was the first award to Lydon as a photo journalist.

Rickard received the other two awards in the category.

Rickard, a school nurse at Bell School, is also a citizen journalist. Rickard also designs and creates a line of jewelry.

Rickard has been on the receiving end of several journalism awards including two Lisagors she shared, and two previous NINA awards for photojournalism.

NINA awarded a special 50th anniversary excellence in journalism award and $1,000 to the Daily Southtown’s Matt Marton. Marton used photography to report on the charitable contributions of the community. His work followed contributions from the point of receipt to the final recipients in Haiti.

Here are the comments of the judges on the Marton series:

In February 2012, the Southtown Star sent photographer Matt Marton and reporter Donna Vickroy to Haiti. “We wanted to find out where cargo containers full of shoes, bicycles, medical supplies and musical instruments, donated by our readers, ended up,” Marton wrote. “In following the trail of compassion, we hoped to form a bridge, built on communication and understanding, from here to Haiti.”

Marton’s stunning series of photos didn’t just follow that trail of compassion. It stirred it anew in readers. It’s difficult to imagine any reader being confronted with these photos and not feeling changed. This series – both the photos and the words –  shines the light of truth and compassion on the people of Haiti, for the benefit of an audience who may have given money, time and/or prayer for them. It’s a sterling example of the type of journalism that newspapers still must find a way to produce – despite budget crunches and staff shortages.

Not insignificant is that this series comes from a newspaper whose newsroom has been gutted by layoffs in recent years. Yet, the Southtown Star saw an opportunity to connect local efforts to an international story that’s fallen from the public eye but is every bit as urgent as it was two years ago. The paper made a significant investment to send these two journalists to Haiti for five days. The journalists stepped into harm’s way at times, witnessed the horror of extreme poverty, and also chronicled hope for better days.

Vickroy’s heroic series of stories was a runner-up, and ordinarily could have won a competition like this. But in this case, judges felt that Marton’s Pulitzer-quality photos were so compelling that they merited singular attention.

Thank you to the Southtown Star for seeing the value and importance of this story. Congratulations to Matt Marton, and thank you for the reminder of why most of us became journalists – to tell stories like this, and to make a difference in the world.

“The quality of this competition is demonstrated by the Marton entry,” Publisher Patrick Boylan said. “Marton had a simple idea, and followed it through. His story demonstrated the public service aspect of journalism and is to be commended.”

NINA recognized excellence in seventeen categories for both online and print entries. In addition, NINA awarded the special 50th anniversary overall prize that Marton received.

The Bulldog site received further recognition last month in a study by the Community Media Workshop, rounding out a list of eleven Chicago neighborhood sites that are essential. Other sites that were recognized in that study were Uptown Update, Chicago Journal and Center Square Journal.

NINA is a fifty year old association to advance journalism. NINA is associated with the Northern Star and the journalism department of Northern Illinois University.

The Bulldog is a two year old online-only news provider serving the Ravenswood neighborhood and Chicago’s North Side. Bulldog content is provided by a production site at the WellesParkBulldog.com URL and also at a Facebook site Facebook.com/The.Chicago.Bulldog.

“The neighborhood news scene in Ravenswood is as competitive an environment as any,” Boylan said. “The launch of DNAInfo is expected to further shake things up in a neighborhood already covered by two locally owned news sites, Everyblock, Patch and a weekly newspaper.”

“The recognitions demonstrate that award-winning journalism is possible at local sites with small budgets and the right leadership,” he said.

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One Response to Bulldog Sweeps NINA Pix Gallery Award; 1st in News Site

  1. Suzanne Ryan on November 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I am so proud of you all! All my warm hugs to you Miss Jane!!! Your are exceptional in both jobs you take seriously, taking care of our children at school with love and appropriate care, and also taking amazing photos. I am proud to be your friend!

    Jack, you must be thrilled! What I wouldn’t give for a recognition like you received, many congratulations sent your way!

    I know everyone has worked so hard, and consistently, to make this on line “paper” (?) to be what it is today…. so many kudos to all involved!

    With love and appreciation,

    Suzanne Ryan