Des Moines Register has won dozens of awards from the Iowa Newspaper Association

The Des Moines Registry and its staff have won 40 awards in the annual Iowa Better Newspaper contests, the Iowa Newspaper Association announced at a banquet Thursday night.

The Register, which competes with other outlets in its broadcast category, won the Harrison “Skip” Weber Investigative Reporting Awards category, with investigative projects taking first, second and third place.

In the winning survey, with the title “COVID-19 positive inmate died in prison by suicide, state says. Family still searching for answers,” journalists Eric Ferkenhoff and Andrea Sahouri explored the death of inmate Christopher Rios.

A series of articles on protecting police officers who have complaints against them, by Andrea Sahouri and former Register reporter Jason Clayworth, won second place in the investigation category. “Unemployed workers turned to the state for pandemic help – and now have to repay thousands of dollars” by journalist Tyler Jett won third place.

Courtney Crowder, a columnist for The Register in Iowa, won the Ken Fuson Award for Best Writing for “Inside COVID’s Siege,” a masterpiece of journalism rooted in Mary Greeley Medical Center, which empowered reporters in the Register inside the halls of the hospital to tell stories of dedication, sacrifice, exhaustion, loss, pain and joy.

“Superbly written, the judges wrote. “You can tell the care taken in telling these stories of patients, doctors and staff. That’s what propelled this entry to the top of a very competitive category.”

Registry staff photographer Zach Boyden-Holmes also won the Iowa Newspaper Award for Best Photographer; Best Sports Photo and Best Photo Essay for his work on how COVID tore a family in Iowa apart, as part of the “Inside COVID’s Siege” project.

After:Photos: How COVID claimed the matriarch of an Iowa family

“A powerful story that many of us have sadly experienced since the start of this pandemic. Compelling images that will be an important part of the story,” the judges wrote of this series of photographs.

Inside COVID’s Siege also won a national Headliner Award and is a finalist for a 2022 Dart Award.

The ledger also swept the Best Photographer category with photographers Bryon Houlgrave and Kelsey Kremer taking second and third place respectively.

The judges also awarded first place to The Register’s series Iowa Mourns, which told the stories of people lost to the coronavirus. This series won honors for Best Special Section – Editorial and Community Leadership.

Matthew Bain, associate sports editor of the Register and former sports journalist, received the Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award.

Other Register Newsroom First Place Awards include:

The Newsroom Second Place Prizes include:

  • Agriculture coverage with the work of journalists Donnelle Eller, Kim Norvell and Tyler Jett
  • Best use of graphics with the work of Karla Brown-Garcia and Tim Webber
  • Best Newspaper Website
  • Best Podcast for Journalist Cody Goodwin’s “In the Room”
  • Best News Photo by Boyden-Holmes
  • Best News Photo by Powers
  • Best Photo Essay by Powers
  • Best News for a Series on the Iowa Bottle Bill by Lee Rood
  • Best Breaking News Story on Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds Reinforcing Masking Demands for Nick Coltrain, Ian Richardson, Tony Leys and Brianne Pfannenstiel
  • Best Personality Story on How TJ Sebolt Built Goodwin’s Much-Vaulted Wrestling Academy
  • Excellence in Editorial Writing for Lucas Grundmeier

After:Professional wrestlers with Black Wrestlers Matter put on a show in Des Moines

Other Newsroom Third Place Awards include:

  • Best Special-Editorial Section for Iowa Endures
  • Better use of social media
  • Best News Photo by Kremer
  • Best Photo Essay by Powers and Boyden-Holmes
  • Excellence in Editorial Writing for Andie Dominick
Orange hues paint the sky during the game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox near the Field of Dreams movie site outside of Dyersville on Thursday, August 12, 2021.

The other Gannett newspapers in Iowa have also won top honors for their work. The Ames Tribune has won 23 awards; Burlington Hawkeye reporter Laigha Anderson’s work on courts and crime ranked third, and the work of the Iowa City Press-Citizen was recognized in 12 award categories.


“We are honored when our work is recognized by journalism organizations,” said Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, director of Register News, “but we are inspired by the service we can provide by holding the powerful accountable and presenting members of our community to places and people they otherwise would not be able to visit.”

You can learn more about the Better Newspaper Awards on the Iowa Newspaper Association website.

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