The Iowa Newspaper Association annual convention always takes place in early February.

The highlight of the convention is the annual awards cemetery, and the Winterset Madisonian came back with a second place award among Class III weekly newspapers — those with a circulation of 1,801 or more.

The Madisonian took second place in the best series writing competition for its collection of stories chronicling the nomination of the downtown Winterset commercial business district to the National Register of Historic Places.

The staff of the Storm Lake Pilot Tribune took first place in the category while the Bremer County Independent got third.

In other awards, the Des Moines Register was named as the Iowa Newspaper Association’s 2017 “Newspaper of the Year.”

Awards were announced at the awards banquet during the association’s 2017 Convention and Trade Show, held Feb. 1-3 in Des Moines.

Presentations were also made to winners of the Iowa 2017 Better Newspaper Contests, which were judged by the Colorado Press Association. Approximately 4,650 entries in dozens of categories were judged by class, based on circulation. The annual contests are sponsored by the Iowa Newspaper Foundation.

During the convention, three Iowa journalists were named 2017 Master Editor-Publishers. Recipients included Ron Slechta of The Kalona News; LeAnn Larson of The Fayette County Union and Stuart Clark, of The Tipton Conservative.

The Master Editor-Publisher awards are presented annually to Iowa publishers and editors selected from nominations made by INA members; with selections made by previous Master Editor-Publisher winners.

Also recognized during the convention were four Distinguished Service Award winners, long-time journalists and professionals honored for their contributions to the newspaper profession and to their communities. Recipients of this honor included Doug Melvold, of the Maquoketa Sentinel-Press; Deb Geisler, advertising manager for the Jefferson Herald; Michael Buqeja, director and professor of Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication; and Scott Sundstrom, vice president of government relations at Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Named “Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists” were: Rebecca McKinsey, Carroll Daily Herald; Joel Aschbrenner, Des Moines Register; and Christina Sorenson, Spirit Lake Dickinson County News.

A complete list of the winning newspapers — weeklies and dailies — and various contests may be found online at: