The Idaho Mountain Express is again being recognized as the best community newspaper in the country for local news coverage.

The National Newspaper Association, the largest newspaper association in the United States, announced last week that the Express won the first-place award in the top tier of the Best Local News Coverage category in the association’s 2019 Better Newspapers Contest. The nationwide contest judged work done in 2018.

The category won by the Express included daily and non-daily community newspapers with a circulation of more than 6,000. The Express won first place in the same category in 2016.

“Clearly the best overall newspaper by far, setting the standard by which other publications should strive to match,” the judges wrote in their comments.

The NNA also announced that Express reporter Mark Dee won two first-place awards for stories published in 2018. In the category of Best Business Story among non-dailies with a circulation of 6,000 or more, Dee earned first place for his story “Sorry, we’re (still) open,” about the Ketchum burgers-and-beer establishment Grumpy’s turning 40.

“This is simply a great story. It’s the only one of the business stories that made me smile and gave me a bit of a chuckle, as well as describing how the business has not only survived but thrived for 40 years. Nicely done,” the judge wrote.

Dee also earned first place in the Best Feature Story category for non-dailies with a circulation of more than 10,000 for the story “Everything I have is here,” about a Ketchum man facing deportation by federal immigration authorities.

“Mark Dee’s story is the kind of journalism that makes community newspapers essential,” the judge wrote. “A heartbreaking story of a real family in crisis, illustrating one of the biggest political issues the country is wrestling with. Excellent work.”

In the Best Local News Coverage category, the NNA’s judges reviewed two entire editions of the competing newspapers and compared them to others from across the nation.

Last year, the NNA gave the Express the first-place award in the General Excellence category for large non-dailies across the country (circulation 10,000 or more). The newspaper has received other General Excellence honors in previous years.

“We’re honored to again be recognized as the nation’s top-ranked source of local news,” said Express Editor Greg Foley. “Winning these awards from the NNA shows the ongoing commitment of the newspaper’s staff to excellent journalism.”

Established in 1885, the NNA represents owners, publishers and editors of more than 2,300 community newspapers in the United States.

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