Tribune wins Public Service Award

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 19, 2005

ST. PAUL (AP) &045; The Albert Lea Tribune won the 2004 Minnesota Associated Press Association’s Public Service Award for a series of stories on methamphetamine abuse.

Debbie Irmen, the paper’s managing editor, and staff writers, Ann Austin and Jennifer Rogers, contributed to the package of stories, titled &uot;Meth: A rural epidemic.&uot; The series took top honors among state newspapers with circulations up to 20,000.

Irmen said the project got its start when she and Rogers began serving on a meth task force.

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&uot;The more we heard, the more we were compelled to share the information with our readers,&uot; she wrote in a nominating letter to judges.

The award was presented Friday night at the annual MAPA awards banquet.

Judges came away &uot;impressed by the resources and energy a rather small newspaper poured into the project.

&uot;A gritty down-home reality shouted out from the front pages, from the pictures of the burn victims on the cover to the story of the father who found his daughter was hooked. Albert Lea’s residents were well-served by this wide-ranging and aggressive journalistic look at the ugly problem that’s often just next door.&uot;

In addition to the coveted AP Public Service award, the Albert Lea Tribune also earned an editorial portfolio award earlier this year from the Minnsota Newspaper Association.

&uot;I am very proud of the staff and their ability to take a community problem and turn it into a service for our readers,&uot; said Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer. &uot;It is our duty to provide such information in a comprehensive package. The award, judged by Wisconsin news publishers, recognizes the Tribune

as a leader in providing valuable news for our readers.&uot;