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Paynesville Press - January 30, 2002

Press series earns first place

Michael Jacobson, editor of the Paynesville Press, won a first-place award for best human interest feature story at the Minnesota Newspaper Association's annual Better Newspaper Contest. The awards were presented on Saturday in Bloomington.

Jacobson won the award in the 2,501-3,500 circulation class for a series of stories he wrote about Heather Henderson, a Paynesville native who struggled for years with an eating disorder and died from heart failure at her home in Duluth in September 2000.

The four-part series ran in the Press in January and February of 2001, with follow-up articles continuing throughout the year as Heather's story was taken to Washington, D.C., and used in health classes on eating disorders at Paynesville Area Middle School.

"The real credit for the success of the stories should go to Heather and her family," said Jacobson. "Heather's lifelong devotion to battling eating disorders and the social factors that cause them and her family's willingness and openness to share her tragic story to further that cause made it a compelling story that was easy to tell."

"Since Heather and I were cub reporters together at the Press and because I considered her a personal friend, the stories - and the award - mean a lot to me," he added. "Frankly, though, because the series focused on a culturally-induced disease, I thought it might be recognized as a social issues story (a different category in the contest) and not solely as a human-interest story."

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