The Vermillion Plain Talk won the General Excellence award, the Best Typography and Design award and third place in the Best Website award category for weeklies with a circulation of 901-1,300 in the South Dakota Newspaper Association’s “Better Newspapers Contest.”

The contest results were announced by the newspaper association Thursday morning.

General Excellence recognizes all aspects of the publication. Gary Wood is the Plain Talk’s publisher and David Lias is its managing editor. Beth Rye is the digital media director.

In addition to the newspaper’s awards, Lias won third place honors for best local column and best news series. The three-part series focused on people associated with Vermillion or the University of South Dakota who lived in New York City during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s what judges had to say about the awards received by the Plain Talk:

• First place -- General Excellence – “It's obvious that thought and planning goes into both the layout and the writing of the Plain Talk. It is anything but "Plain". The writing is always good and the layout is consistent.”

• First place – Best Typography and Design – “Front page has good design. Attention to detail in sports pages.”

• Third place -- Newspaper Website – “I like how many stories the website can fit under each section without it appearing too crowded.”

• Third place -- Best Local Column – The columns judged included a tribute to Mayor Jack Powell following his death and a piece reflecting on how COVID-19 affected the school year of Vermillion High School’s Class of 2020 – “Solidly written local column, offering both poignant and humorous insights into local people and happenings. In his tribute to the mayor, Lias brings the reader in, allowing us to imagine that emotion. Especially nice salute to graduates.”

• Third place -- Best News Series – “Great storytelling. Stories that show a local connection to a national issue are always well received by readers.”

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