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Staff Report
4:00 am CDT June 19, 2019

From an “inspirational” obituary to “engaging” breaking news to a “haunting” and “exceptional” investigation, 22nd Century Media publications earned a company-record 16 awards for journalistic excellence from the National Newspaper Association. 

It is the seventh year of national competition for 22nd Century Media, parent company of The Mokena Messenger, and the 16 awards top the company’s previous high of 14 (2015).

The National Newspaper Association boasts more than 2,000 members, and this year, its annual Better Newspaper Contest welcomed more than 1,300 entries from 36 states. Winners in the competition, judged by esteemed journalists from across the country, will be honored at an Oct. 5 banquet in Milwaukee.

Of the 16 awards won by 22nd Century Media, two were first-place and seven were second-place honors. 22CM also earned three third-place nods, and four were honorable mention.

The Homer Horizon, the first newspaper launched by 22nd Century Media, earned both first-place awards: one for a feature written by Editor Tom Czaja and the other for an investigative piece produced by a team of reporters.

Four of the honors went to The Orland Park Prairie, which was recognized for two editorials by Managing Editor Bill Jones, a sports column by Jeff Vorva and an obituary tribute by reporter Meredith Dobes.

Other awards were won by: The Tinley Junction (a review and a sports feature each by Sports Editor Jeff Vorva), The Lockport Legend (sports story by Editor Max Lapthorne), The Frankfort Station (sports photo by Julie McMann).