DeKALB – The Daily Chronicle’s ongoing coverage of concerns related to Sycamore’s water quality recently earned top awards from the newly renamed Northern Illinois News Association.

Other awards recognized Daily Chronicle reporters’ work over the past year covering DeKalb city government, labor negotiations with Sycamore Community School District 427 employees, COVID-19, and photos highlighting spot news and feature coverage.

Former Daily Chronicle reporter Katie Finlon and Daily Chronicle editor Kelsey Rettke’s investigative series digging into Sycamore’s water quality took several top awards. The five-part series published in early 2022 earned first place for best in-depth news story, first place for watchdog reporting, and first place for best government and public affairs reporting. The coverage was made possible, in part, through a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Rettke earned first place in the best general feature category for her profile of Carlie Hamburg, a newlywed Rochelle native who endured a harrowing four-month near-death experience hospitalized with COVID-19 weeks after her wedding. Hamburg told the Daily Chronicle in January she wanted to share her story so others would know how important it is to get vaccinated against the virus, a protection she didn’t have when she fell ill.

Daily Chronicle Photo Editor Mark Busch’s photojournalism also was recognized. Busch’s photos of a bomb squad investigation after a car crashed into the Sycamore Police Department in May 2021 earned first place for best spot news photo.

Busch also earned first for best feature photo for his coverage of a snowy day in DeKalb County, and a family – and their dog – enjoying a sled hill in Sycamore.

Finlon and Rettke also earned third place in the best government and public affairs category for their coverage of issues surrounding the DeKalb city clerk.

Rettke and former Daily Chronicle reporter Katrina J.E. Milton took second in the best education reporting category for their coverage of the Sycamore School District 427 teachers’ union in the spring as members rallied for an updated contract amid pandemic-era staffing struggles.

Milton also earned third place for best historical feature for her story on the rededication of the century-old Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Clock in downtown DeKalb which was unveiled on Veterans Day 2021.

The association, formerly called the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association – founded in 1962 at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb – held its 2022 awards banquet Oct. 27 in DeKalb. NINA’s 60th anniversary was celebrated with the renaming.

“For the third time in its 60-year history, NINA has changed its name to reflect its commitment to Northern Illinois journalism and the changes in our exciting industry,” President Patricia Szpekowski said in a news release. “By changing the name from ‘newspaper’ to ‘news,’ we recognize that print is no longer the single or necessarily the primary way information is disseminated and that our commitment is not to a particular medium but to the integrity of news in any form.”