Awards for The Catholic Messenger in Iowa Better Newspaper Contests

The Catholic Messenger won first place for its story on the apartment disaster and affordable housing crisis from the Iowa Newspaper Association.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

The Catholic Messenger earned a first-place award and a third-place award in the 2024 Iowa Better Newspaper Contests, announced during the 2024 Convention and Awards Ceremony Feb. 8 in Des Moines.

First-place honors in the Best News Feature Story (weekly, class 3) recognized the Messenger’s story titled “Apartment disaster compounds affordable housing crisis,” written by Editor Barb Arland-Fye. Reporter Lindsay Steele contributed to the article. The judge’s comment: “To win first place in this contest requires a story of exceptional quality and this one delivered. Great reporting and great writing. Tying in the tragedy of a building collapse with an affordable housing crisis brought home a well-sourced story. This was the best entry in an extremely strong group of entries.”

In the Excellence in Editorial Writing (weekly, class 3), the Messenger received the third-place award, based on three different editorials by Arland-Fye. The judge’s comment: “The newspaper takes on substantive and locally important issues while tying them to their own mission. The piece on minors working in meatpacking is spare yet vivid. An editorial on affordable housing used an anecdote effectively before pivoting to statistics and finally a clear set of ‘asks’ for readers. The editorials translate issues in the news to actionable reminders of faith and works in an accessible style.”


The Iowa Newspaper Association is an association of 241 newspaper members from throughout Iowa “working together to provide the citizens of Iowa with information and leadership for today and far into the 21st century” (INA website). Members range from weeklies of 750 subscribers or less to large newspapers that publish several or more times a week. The Class 3 category, in which the Messenger competes, has a circulation base of 1,261 subscribers or more.

As a way to gauge the competition, INA newspapers submitted 2,879 entries for this year’s competition. The Illinois Press Association judged the 2024 Iowa Better Newspaper Contests.

The Messenger is grateful for the affirmation of its colleagues in the secular press, which demonstrates an acknowledgment of excellence in a faith-based publication.

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