Lillie News reporters win Better Newspaper Contest awards

Jesse Poole

Mike Munzenrider

Part of Mike Munzenrider’s third-place winning article on former state Sen. Bev Scalze.

file photo • One of former Lillie Suburban Newspapers staffer Jesse Poole’s award-winning photos of a vigil for Philando Castile. He won second place in the Feature Photo category in the 2016-2017 Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.

Lillie Suburban Newspapers reporters once again won awards in the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, with executive editor Mike Munzenrider and Jesse Poole, a former news editor, being recognized at the 151st Annual MNA Convention on Jan. 26. 

Munzenrider won third place in the Human Interest Story category, which includes feature stories about people and their problems, concerns and achievements, written in a way that evokes the reader’s interest or sympathy. The category is judged on originality, readability and impact

Munzenrider’s winning article, titled “Sen. Bev Scalze: leaves legacy of clean water, art & improved infrastructure,” was originally published Dec. 20, 2016, in the Roseville Review. The article, about an icon in local politics, covers Scalze’s climb from the Little Canada City Council to state senator. It was published just before her retirement from elected office at the end of 2016. 

One contest judge noted appreciation for Munzenrider’s “very good, very thorough profile.”

Munzenrider has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He wrote for the Minnesota Daily and The Journal in Minneapolis before he joined the Lillie News staff. He was promoted to news editor of the Roseville Review in 2015 and executive editor of all Lillie Suburban newspapers in 2017.

CLICK HERE to read Munzenrider's winning entry: Sen. Bev Scalze: leaves legacy of clean water, art & improved infrastructure


Poole, who worked for Lillie News between 2015 and 2017, won second place in the Feature Photo category. In the Better Newspaper Contest, photos are judged both on content and technique.

Poole’s photo set, headlined “A year and a day: a vigil for Philando,” was originally published July, 19, 2017, in the Bulletin newspaper group. His evocative photos captured family, friends and supporters of Philando Castile at an emotional vigil held a year and a day after he was killed.

One of the contest judges commented, “Looking at this storyboard you can feel the emotions the people in these pictures are feeling ... hurt, sadness, disbelief, anger, etc. Even without reading the story, your reader knows what the images are saying.”

This is the second award that Lillie News has won for its coverage of the 2016 police killing of Castile. Munzenrider won third place in the Breaking News category in last year’s Better Newspaper Contest for his initial coverage of the Castile shooting.

Poole earned a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Gordon College in Massachusetts. He wrote and photographed for the Gloucester Daily Times in Massachusetts and later freelanced for the Boston Globe and Boston Herald before being hired by Lillie Suburban Newspapers. He left the company to pursue video work.

Click here to see the photos that won Poole second place. A YEAR AND A DAY: A Vigil for Philando


MNA’s Better Newspaper Contest recognizes excellence in journalism throughout Minnesota. Both of this year’s award winners from Lillie News competed in the category for weeklies with circulation over 5,000. This year’s contest was judged by members of the Illinois Press Association.


– Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or

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