News: North Dakota guardsmen win numerous media awards
Story by Sgt. Amy Wieser-Willson
FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota National Guard members working full-time in the Public Information Office and part-time in the field to tell the story of their fellow soldiers and airmen recently received a slew of awards from three media-related contests. Two of the competitions pitted them against their active-duty counterparts around the world.
“The North Dakota National Guard’s Public Information Office has once again been recognized for the outstanding work they do every day to tell the story of the Guard’s successes and accomplishments here at home and abroad,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. “I have seen firsthand the professionalism and expertise of these guardsmen, especially throughout last year’s flood fight. They did a great job informing the public of the Guard’s response and working with local, state and federal agencies to ensure the dissemination of valuable information. I applaud the Public Information team for receiving this deserving and prestigious recognition.”
While a couple of the awards stem from the team’s flood coverage, a variety of other events also came through in the winning entries.
“Whether photo, video or feature news stories, our public affairs team continues to excel and produce high quality media products,” said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. “The recent repeat national recognition in U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and National Guard Bureau media competitions is definite proof of the quality of their products. I am proud of their efforts in telling the N.D. National Guard story.”
The North Dakota National Guard’s oft-recognized social media sites again took honors, this time as the best in the entire U.S. Air Force. The Guard’s submission, which focused on its efforts on Flickr, but also highlighted its Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ sites, earned top place among all Air National Guard units before advancing to the 56th annual Air Force Media Contest and winning there. During the course of 2011, the North Dakota National Guard’s now-three-year-old Flickr site doubled in products available, ending the year with more than 7,000 photos showing Guard members in action in their communities, throughout the state and representing the nation. More notable, though, is the audience reach of the site, which experienced more than 4.3 million photo views last year.
“What’s behind those significantly increased stats is a dedication and commitment to a number of strategic objectives,” the Guard’s entry in the contest read. “1, telling the NDNG story, 2, providing up-to-date visual information for our communities, state and nation to help during times of crisis, and 3, to document a historical record of the people, equipment and missions within the NDNG.”
In the U.S. Army-wide Keith L. Ware Competition, Staff Sgt. Amy Wieser Willson, deputy public information officer for the North Dakota National Guard, won top honors in the Story Series category “Profiles in Guard History,” four feature stories highlighting the service of soldiers and airmen throughout North Dakota National Guard history. It’s the second time in three years that she has won the Army-wide honor in that category.
The winning entries from both contests now advance to the Department of Defense-level Thomas Jefferson Awards, which will be announced April 19.
In order to qualify for the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force levels of competition, all North Dakota National Guard entries needed to place in the National Guard Bureau-level contest that boasted more than 800 entries from across the United States.
“I am in awe at the hard work and immeasurable hours the public affairs members give in providing vital information to the Guard, media organizations and to the communities where we live, work and serve. Today’s 24-hour information environment necessitates we remain easily reachable and respond to events and questions day and night,” said Capt. Dan Murphy, of Bismarck, N.D., North Dakota National Guard public information officer. “The North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs staff is remarkable and although appropriately recognized nationally in their hard work, the commitment demonstrated through floods, snow storms and deployments is really the efforts that show they are the best at what they do — telling the story of your National Guard to the world. ”
In the 2011 National Guard Bureau Media Contest, writers, photographers and videographers from the state excelled.
The North Dakota Guardian, a monthly magazine featuring stories and photos from across the North Dakota National Guard, placed second among all magazine-format publications in the Army National Guard. Staff Sgt. Eric Jensen, of Mandan, N.D., has served as the publication’s editor since its inception in 2007.
Jensen also won in the Photojournalism category for “Business is Booming: Engineers Assemble at 164th RTI (Regional Training Institute) for Exemplary Training.”
Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, of Fargo, N.D., took second place in Photojournalism for a photo spread titled “All in the Black,” which documented the success of the Guard’s Biathlon Team. He also placed second in the Sports Photograph category for “Girl Power,” which showed a National Guard social worker and her daughter running for TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) during the Fargo Marathon events. Lipp also earned three third-place wins: one in News Photograph for “One Sandbag at a Time,” which documented the Guard’s 2011 flood response, another in Feature Photograph for “Into the Flame,” which shows firefighters training at the 119th Wing’s Regional Training Site in Fargo, and a final third for “Roles of the Military Mom” in Illustrative Photograph.
A Television Feature Report produced by Master Sgt. Eric Johnson, titled “Donation,” won its category. It documented the story of a North Dakota National Guard Soldier who donated a kidney to a fellow Guardsman. Johnson lives in Fargo, N.D.
In Video Field Production, Staff Sgt. Than Baardson, of Moorhead, Minn., earned second place for “Missions,” which highlights the missions of the North Dakota Air National Guard, from flying the C-21 Learjet and MQ-1 Predator to providing security in the missile fields in northwestern North Dakota.
In the writing categories, Wieser Willson, of West Fargo, N.D., won first place in Story Series for “Profiles in Guard History,” as well as second in the News Article category for “All Hands on Deck: Combined Efforts Help Evacuate WWII Veteran from Flooded Home.”
Staff Sgt. Laura Bearfield, a unit public affairs representative for the 191st Military Police Company, also won for her writing. The Mandan, N.D., resident placed first in Contribution by a Stringer (Writing) for “Broadening Horizons: Guardsmen Return from Haiti Humanitarian Mission.”
The North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs Office also placed first in the Air National Guard’s Initiatives in New Media category.