By Dan Haley
Two or three minutes from now, depending how fast you read, you'll be glad this column maxes out at 550 words – 600 if I push the designers. Because you see this column is all about us. And the editorial prizes we just won. By implication it is about just how great we are at this end of the pencil. But by using a metaphor — or maybe its called a simile, or foreshadowing — I'm going to try and convince you that by reading this really outstanding newspaper every week, it reflects well on you and that you, in fact, are the greatest.
Truthfully, while we're the ones who hot-tailed it to Springfield the end of last week for the annual Illinois Press Association "Best of the Press" awards, really we are just there representing you, our readers. With each award we won, and there were a honking boatload, I pictured a certain reader and the expression on their face — pride of place, rightful indignation, a wry smile — as they read the story or took in the photograph we were honored for. Twenty-nine awards. That's a lot of walking up to the front trying to look modest.
One of those awards was for General Excellence. That's like the top award. And in the Special Section category there were four winners. And all of them were us. Fall Fashion. Pride. Answer Book. Home Book. And there's that reader, her life changed by our Fall Fashion section. The wry smile gives way to several actual tears as she realizes you really can shop for clothes in Oak Park.
Timmy, a digital native, didn't have much use for local news on parchment. And then he discovered OakPark.com, the digital version of Wednesday Journal and he was gleeful. Wait'll he finds out that OakPark.com was just named the best website in the state in the large circulation category. He might just launch a Tweet proclaiming this website that he, in his cool genius, discovered.
When Brad Spencer, our sports guy, won for best sports columnist and best sports section, I pictured all the whiny readers who regularly flame Brad for not covering their son's or daughter's obscure sports talent or not being at every sporting event in person. Now I'm picturing more appreciation.
There's a category for original column. That's where Ken Trainor and I compete head-on. Luckily neither of us came in first or we'd be rolling around on the floor in the newsroom dishing out noogies. But Ken did come in second, which is good because he'd be impossible if I ever beat him. Not that it has ever happened. Or likely will. Mrs. Trainor's boy was born to write columns.
There were lots of other awards. For photos and page design and editorials and feature sections. But you get the idea. On your behalf, we did pretty darned good this year. By our tradition of fairness, I'd point out that our competitors at Oak Leaves had a good day, too, though I'm bound by objective reporting standards to note they did it in a smaller circulation category than the Journal.
In closing let me just say, with something approaching complete sincerity, that winning awards is fun even if you have to drive to Springfield to pick them up. An award here or there doesn't mean a lot by itself. But when year by year we are honored repeatedly by our peers for our hard work, then it is gratifying. And we do, corny as it sounds, picture our readers as we go about our business.
But we hardly ever picture you naked.