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22nd Century Media publications earned a company-record 16 awards for journalistic excellence from the National Newspaper Association.
Staff report
4:39 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 Northbrook Tower, and the 16 awards top the company’s previous high of 14 in 2015.

The Tower’s editor, Martin Carlino, authored two award-winning articles: a sports feature and an education story. Sports Editor Michal Dwojak earned recognition for a sports news story. 

Carlino’s feature profile on former Glenbrook North ace pitcher Michael Oh, who battled back from multiple surgeries, earned second place in the Sports Feature category. 

“Oh, yes. Very close to first place,” the competition’s judges said of Carlino’s story. “There is a ton of information packed into this sports story — but it does not lose momentum half way through. Your newspaper is lucky to have a writer of your caliber.”

Carlino’s coverage of Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South’s March 14 walkouts, and District 225’s handling of the walkouts, also earned a national reporting award. 

“While I didn’t agree with the subject matter, it was well written in a very deliberate and unbiased way,” competition judges said of The Tower’s coverage. “I could connect with the passion and desire of the students to do what they felt was right.

Dwojak earned a national award for his profile of local legendary basketball coach Dave Weber.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for a fun story to report on,” Dwojak said. “David Weber means a lot to the Northbrook community and has made a great impact in the coaching world.”

Judges gave Dwojak high praise for his reporting and writing.

“Michal Dwojak’s reporting and writing are paired to great effect in this profile of a legendary local basketball coach whose impact has reached some major colleges and future All-American players,” judges said.

The Tower has now won eight national awards since its inception in 2012. 

“We are humbled and truly honored to be recognized by our peers at the national level with these great distinctions,” Carlino said. 

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.

“I am blown away,” said Joe Coughlin, the company’s publisher. “Our editorial team works tirelessly to produce quality community journalism that informs and equips our readers. The work is for the community, but accolades of this magnitude help validate those efforts.”

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.

Three each went to The Tower and the Malibu Surfside News, 22CM’s only California newspaper. 

The Surfside News was honored for its collective work covering the devastating Woolsey Fire, a feature by Editor Lauren Coughlin and a sports story by reporter Chris Megginson.

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).

“The variety of work that was recognized is particularly impressive to me,” Publisher Joe Coughlin said. “These are the best reporters in Chicago’s suburbs, and they keep proving it.”