The Stoughton Courier Hub is home to both the best Rookie Reporter and local government coverage among weekly papers of its size throughout the state.
Mackenzie Krumme, a Stoughton native who joined Unified Newspaper Group in June 2019 as the Hub’s community reporter — and was promoted to government reporter in April 2020 — was awarded first place for both “Rookie Reporter.”
The distinction is awarded to reporters who are within the first year and a half of their full-time journalism careers, and local government reporting. Those awards join six others shared by Krumme, sports editor Mark Nesbitt, advertising representative Catherine Stang and former sports editor Adam Feiner. Those awards include two second-places, three third-places and an honorable mention.
Editorial and advertising staff from the Hub and its sister publications, the Oregon Observer and the Verona Press, are the recipients of a combined 24 awards from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation.
The WNA announced the winners Friday, Feb. 19. Award submissions are accepted each year for work done from September to the following August, and judged by reporters, editors and advertising staff in other states across the county.
Krumme’s win is a surprise to her, per Unified Newspaper Group tradition where the editor submits what they feel a reporter’s best work is and a cover letter without their knowledge. News editor Kimberly Wethal submitted Krumme for the award because of her drive to get to the root of issues in Stoughton and UNG’s other communities. It was also Krumme’s excitement for continuous learning in her job.
“Even though Mackenzie was covering her hometown, a place she knew well already, she was still eager to get to meet new people, tell interesting stories and become an even larger part of the community,” Wethal’s letter to judges read. “With delight, she also dipped into other people’s beats, including education reporting with a feature on a student podcasting club and government reporting as she covered new governance rules for the city’s downtown.”
Krumme is the fourth straight Rookie Reporter awardee, following past third-place winner Wethal in 2020, honorable mention winner Alexander Cramer in 2019 and third-place winner Amber Levenhagen in 2018.
Krumme’s win in local government coverage included stories about the Yahara River dam and the skepticism surrounding the proposal to remove it; a story on the re-envisioning of the abandoned power plant building along the Yahara off of Fourth Street; and a feature of a century-old photo collection of Stoughton curated by the Landmarks Commission.
Krumme also won a third place award in the Enterprise/Interpretive reporting category for her story about the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic had on Stoughton-area dairy farmers who found themselves dumping milk down the drain.
Stang won three awards for advertisements: a second-place for a multiple-advertiser spread, a third for best special section and an honorable mention in the real estate ad category.
Nesbitt was awarded second place for his sports feature story, “Running through a pandemic,” where he profiled John Selbo, who ran his 40th Syttende Mai race, despite the entire heritage celebration being canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19.
“This had a good lead sentence, and it was clever to work into the story mentions of the places around the world where the man had run. That made it more interesting than it might have been otherwise,” the judge wrote.
Feiner, who left the Hub in August 2020 to be a middle school teacher in Missouri, received a third place award for his sports news story, “Three-peat complete,” chronicling the Stoughton High School wrestling team’s team state championship last March. Together, Nesbitt and Feiner swept the sports news category for weekly papers similar to the size of the Hub, winning first place for the Verona Press and second place for the Oregon Observer.
“The lede could have been stronger, but otherwise this entry had good, solid writing throughout,” the judge wrote.