The Hub’s Mary Jane Skala wins 10 national journalism awards | Local News

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KEARNEY — Mary Jane Skala, a feature writer, health reporter and personal columnist for the Kearney Hub, was a finalist in the 2022 National Federation of Women in the Press communications competition sweepstakes.

The award was presented Saturday at the NFPW annual conference in Fargo, ND

Overall, Skala won 10 awards – one second place, four third place and five honorable mentions – in the competition, which honored broadcasters across the country for their work in newspapers, public relations, social media, radio and television, college journalism and more for work completed in 2021.






Mary Jane Skala


The journalist who collects the most points in the contest wins the contest prize. Skala tied with another winner as a finalist for this award. Skala won the NFPW Sweepstakes Award in 1996 and 2020 and was the first runner-up last year.

Skala 2022 prizes included:

– Specialized articles, Style: “The farm, a dream come true”, on the transformation of a barn into a wedding venue near Gibbon

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– Personal chronicle: “Memory of the COVID losses” and “Fifty years behind them”

– Specialized, green/environmental articles: “Playing in the flowers”, about a woman’s flower garden north of Kearney

– Specialized Articles, Education: “Sharing the Light of Love and Kindness,” about a first grade teacher who wrote a children’s book after the sudden death of her husband

– Specialized articles, religion: “Searching for answers to difficult questions”, about a pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church who lost his young wife to ALS

– Personality profile: “Nyquist cherishes family, farm and countryside”, about Roland Nyquist, 100

– Specialized articles, food: “Bless this food”, on feasts prepared by the Reverend Neil Hock of the Newman Center at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

– Specialized articles, social issues: “The beat of the sacred drum nourishes the spirit of the priest”, on the collection of Sioux works of art and handicrafts of the Reverend Art Faesser

– Specialized articles, physical health: “We have diabetes – listen to us now”, on adolescents and students with type I diabetes

– Specialized articles, trips: “Happy after Hopi haircut”, a personal story about a hair salon on the Hopi Indian reservation in Arizona.







Lori Potter Mug

Lori Potter


Additionally, Retired Hub reporter Lori Potter received six awards for her work prior to her retirement in 2021:

– First place, photo report: Sumner Rodeo

– Second place, photographer-editor: “Branding Day” at the Cross Diamond Ranch near Smithfield

– Honorable Mention, Single Photograph, General Photo: Sunrise over the Platte River during Crane Season

– Honorable mention, specialist articles, agriculture: “Beef is best”, about the Scottish-Highland cattle of the Swanson family in Harlan County

– Honorable mention, specialist articles, business: ‘Snow had no idea he would ever run a sawmill’, about Rastus Snow’s sawmill near Litchfield

– Honorable Mention, Specialized Articles, Personal Essay: Potter’s Pioneer Ancestors in Red Cloud

Another Kearney winner was Erika Pritchard, a digital content creator at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She won two awards:

– First place, feature article, online publication: “Phadisiana Smith-Whiteside overcomes obstacles to be the first member of the family to attend university”, published in UNK News

– Third place, special items, science or technology: “More than pretty plants: UNK students and professors use the greenhouse for research.”

Three Grand Island Independent staff members also won national honours. They are journalists Terri Hahn and Jessica Votipka, and Bette Pore, the Independent’s editor who retired in 2021.

– Second place in the publication (newspaper) regularly edited by the participant, for the Grand Island Independent

– Honorable mention, headlines.

– First place, single page edition in a newspaper section or supplement

– Runner Up, Newspaper Page Design

– Third place, editorial, “Freedom of expression vital for student journalists”

Votipka won two honorable mention awards:

– In-depth report: “Former student remembers growing up as a student of color at GIPS”

– Sportswriting: “Senior high girls wrestling”, about the creation of the girls’ wrestling program at Grand Island High School.

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