Austin Weekly News took second place in General Excellence in the mid-sized circulation category in the annual competition sponsored by the Illinois Press Association. AWN columnist Arlene Jones won a third-place award in the Original Column category.

Members of the Michigan Press Association, who judged the contest, wrote in their comments that “[Austin Weekly News] was by far the best of the tab formats. Your connection to the community is evident by your serious treatment of the issues. Lots of local photos and viewpoints.”

In the column category, the judges noted that Arlene Jones “hits a topic that resonates with all readers in the area.”

Austin Weekly News’ managing editor Ken Trainor said, “The judges’ comments are on the mark. We’re proud of this newspaper and the writers and editors who make it what it is-a genuine community asset. It begins with editor Terry Dean, but we couldn’t reach this level without the contributions of Delores McCain, Robert Felton, Keyonda Campbell, and our columnists, Arlene Jones, China Hill, Sandra Johnson, LaDonna Redmond, Malcolm Crawford, and Frank Lipscomb. Thanks to their efforts, the West Side has a real voice, and it’s nice to see the judges recognize all their hard work.”

Austin Weekly News is published by Wednesday Journal Inc., which owns six weekly newspapers and Chicago Parent, a monthly magazine.

Wednesday Journal (of Oak Park and River Forest) was honored last week as the state’s best large-circulation weekly. Overall, the Journal won 11 awards, which were presented during a luncheon Friday in Springfield.

In addition to General Excellence, the paper won first place honors for its Viewpoints editorial section, for best government beat reporting, and for Lifelines, its arts and feature section.

Three other weekly newspapers owned by Wednesday Journal, Inc. also won notable awards in the IPA contest. The Forest Park Review won first place in General Excellence in the small-circulation category. The Riverside-Brookfield Landmark won four awards and Chicago Journal, serving city neighborhoods surrounding the Loop, won twice. There were 3,800 entries in the entire contest.

“We’re proud of each of our neighborhood newspapers,” said publisher Dan Haley. “And each one of these papers is unique and specially focused on a town or city neighborhood. We’re not making mass-produced community journalism as so many of our competitors do these days. We’re still publishing the local newspaper. Our readers notice the difference. Our advertisers notice the difference. And it is gratifying when, this year, a bunch of journalists from Michigan, the people who judged this year’s IPA contest, noticed the difference.”

Haley also pointed out, immodestly, that Chicago Parent, a magazine published by Wednesday Journal, Inc., was named the best regional parenting magazine in the country this year by Parenting Publications of America.