The PineandLakes Echo Journal and Brainerd Dispatch won a combined 18 awards at the annual Minnesota Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest. The awards banquet was held Thursday, Jan. 24, in Bloomington.

Echo Journal staff writer Dan Determan won a first-place award for a sports story on referee numbers in the category for weeklies with a circulation of 2,501-5,000. The newspaper's website - - won a second-place award in the same category.

Former Echo Journal reporter Theresa Bourke took second place for best use of video among weeklies with circulation over 2,500 for a video of water-skiers, including one dressed as Santa, on Sibley Lake in December 2017.

Marcy Nickel, a page designer for Forum Communications who works at the Echo Journal office, won second place for best use of information graphics and graphic illustrations among among weeklies with circulation over 2,500 for a photo illustration in the Echo Journal showing an overhead view of the Crosslake Historic Log Village and a description of each building at the village.

Echo Journal Staff Writer Travis placed third among weeklies with circulation of 2,501-5,000 for a feature photo of a county inspection of the Pequot Lakes fire tower.

And the Echo Journal newspaper won third place among weeklies with circulation of 2,501-5,000 for its use of photography as whole.

Brainerd Dispatch awards among daily newspapers with circulation of 10,000 and over included:

Sports reporting, first; use of photography as a whole, second; and advertising campaign, Lisa Henry and Linda Hurst of the Dispatch, first.

Among all daily newspapers, the Dispatch won first place for its classified ad section as well as for best advertisement for an ad by Henry and press photographer's portfolio by Kelly Humphrey; second place for a news photo by Humphrey, for a portrait and personality photo by Steve Kohls, for best magazine for Minnesota Home magazine, for best use of multimedia, and for best use of social media; and third place for an arts and entertainment story by Gabe Lagarde.