The Star Tribune took six first-place prizes Wednesday in one of the oldest and largest annual contests recognizing journalistic excellence in the United States.

The National Headliner Awards recognized the Star Tribune for both its coverage of George Floyd's death and the aftermath, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. The Headliner Awards were founded in 1934 by the Press Club of Atlantic City, N.J.

"It has been a uniquely challenging year for our newsroom, but these national honors reflect how devoted our staff is to serving the public with compelling, vital journalism," Star Tribune Editor Rene Sanchez said.

The Star Tribune and the Los Angeles Times were top winners in the contest, with six first-place awards each.

Star Tribune staff members were awarded first place in the Breaking News daily newspaper category for coverage of Floyd's death on Memorial Day 2020, which occurred after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.

The death of Floyd, a Black man, was filmed by a bystander and posted on social media, prompting widespread unrest in the Twin Cities and a global reckoning on race. A Hennepin County jury last month returned two murder convictions against Chauvin, who is white.

Headliner judges said the Star Tribune "demonstrated why journalists and journalism are critical to a community," and stated that the newspaper's journalists "provided multilayered, contextual coverage even as they were targeted by protesters and the police."

Star Tribune reporter Libor Jany, who covers the Minneapolis police, won a first-place award for local news beat coverage in a top 20 media market. The judges said Jany "exemplifies beat coverage," noting he was the first to tweet both Floyd and Chauvin's names in "what would become an international story."

Jany's work, judges said, went beyond "that increasingly beaten path, and found stories and people that speak to his city's other failings. Beautifully written, and meaningful."

The Star Tribune's photojournalists won a first-place award for their work in documenting Floyd's death and its aftermath, telling "a story of rage, fury, confrontation and sadness."

Digital designer Anna Boone was awarded first place for "One Week in Minneapolis," an online presentation documenting the fallout following Floyd's death. The judges called her efforts "clear-eyed storytelling in an unconventional format. Exceptionally well done."

Members of the digital staff — Colleen Kelly, Alexis Allston and Boone — won first place for their coverage of Floyd's murder on social media, "capturing history in real time."

Other work by Star Tribune staffers also won recognition. Photojournalist Richard Tsong-Taatarii won a first-place award for a multiple-day photo story documenting the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota and South Dakota. Tsong-Taatarii also won a third-place award for an individual photo portfolio.

Reporters Chris Serres and Glenn Howatt won a second-place award for pandemic coverage documenting the COVID-19 outbreak at the North Ridge Health and Rehab facility in New Hope, and Reid Forgrave won a second-place award for feature writing on a variety of subjects.

Earlier this year, the Star Tribune won a prestigious George Polk Award, a Scripps Howard Award and an Online Journalism Award for its reporting of Floyd's death and the resulting fallout.

"We are proud of our news staff's work this past year as they served our community," said Suki Dardarian, the Star Tribune's senior managing editor. "And it is a great honor to see that work valued by our peers in journalism."

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752

Twitter: @ByJanetMoore