2000 Better Newspaper Contest — Column Writing

Division 2, Dailies 7,000 to 99,999
1.    The Beaumont Enterprise — Columnist Jane McBride. “There is such a thing as too comfortable” and “Father’s love will outlast loss” This columnist is a “writer.” The words flow. I like the conversational tone, whether in humor or as serious topic. This was one of the few entries with two strong, solid columns. From the beginning to the end, I wanted to keep reading. It was like sharing conversations with a friend who trusted me enough to share personal thoughts. I would read this column every week.
2.    Odessa American — Columnist Laura Dennis. “Great gifts come from the heart” and “Old friends never give up on each other” It must be great to have a husband who’s a dead bang guaranteed great column subject. Both columns started a little slow, but got better as they went along – a key to keeping a reader’s interest. Overall great writing. The best columns have a message told with stories or examples new to readers. That technique worked well in both these columns.
3.    Midland Reporter-Telegram — Columnist Gary Ott. “The greatest generation” and “Illness reverses” I expect every reader with older parents identified with the hospital column. The story, told through a son’s eyes, was very touching. The “greatest generation” column was good, but lacked the detail and insight that comes with first-person storytelling. I believe most column readers want that personal touch, more than a rehash or analysis of some general, cold news story.
4.    New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung — Columnist Doug Toney. “Callers looked past smiles, job and saw only skin color” and “Tragic car wreck reminds us how fragile life is” The personal story about the car accident had a lot of impact, mainly because it was told in a simple, dramatic, news style. Like all good columns, it had a story, characters to care for any a message. The other column bordered more on an editorial, but it still was an important issue. I expect many readers were uncomfortable to know there are such attitudes in their community.

Division 3, Dailies Less Than 7,000
1.    Hereford Brand — Columnist Mauri Montgomery. “Holding the wolves at bay” This column doubtless expresses the view of many citizens – zero tolerance. It is well researched and deals with a vexing issue many schools are struggling with. Well written. “Some football stories never grow too old” This judge, a football fan at that, really likes this column. And he knows when to read on and wait for the punch line! Good work.
2.    Seguin Gazette-Enterprise — Columnist Steve Boehm. “School vouchers invite hogs to public trough” What a great piece on the issues of voucher and charter schools! The focus is right on target and reveals the deeper issues. Great defense of public education – don’t destroy it, fix it! “And now for the real news” This is a very funny and entertaining column. It illustrates the author’s ability to shift from very serious subject to lighter ones. Very readable!
3.    Hereford Brand — Columnist Dianna F. Dandridge. “Thanksgiving has its traditions” This judge likes the detail of recall – a recall of things important in the past and important today. “O, twiddle poop” This is a “twiddle poop” good column. Many mothers (even fathers) can relate to the problems of keeping a civil tongue these days. Good work.
4.    Athens Daily Review — Columnist Toni Garrad Clay. “When the story is more than a story” What journalist could not relate to this column? In my view, this piece shares with readers the conflicts of emotion and the demands of journalism. A good column. “This one’s for Sam” Well, I like Toni’s style. These are personal columns she writes, but for her that’s a plus because she does them well. Fine work.

Division 4, Semiweeklies 4,001 or More
1.    The Sealy News — Columnist Brandi Chionsini. “Tragedy in Aggieland” and “Gone but not forgotten: Gary Stone” Very light touch with difficult subject matter. Makes you feel good about paper. Not shy about writing on emotional topics.
2.    The Garland News — Columnist Richard Abshire. “Apathy puts power of all in hands of few” and “Getting involved” Writer shoots from the hip. Very clear where he stands on issues of impact to the community.
3.    The Irving News — Columnist Dan Koller. “Woman’s wallet keeps few secrets” Writer gives everyday experiences clever, off-beat lift. Like his style. “Trying to get a life on Real World” Funny localization of fascinating national trend.
4.    Wharton Journal-Spectator — Columnist Ronald K. Sanders. “Integrity check: Would you stop?” and “Sound and fury, signifying nothing” Nice touch. Also appreciate succinctness. Columnists who say a lot in a few words are a blessing to readers and contest judges.

Division 5, Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less
1.    The Childress Index — Columnist Clemi Higley Blackburn. “Perspectives - Three people” Wow! Terrific! It brought a scene of 45 years ago back again. You did one good job of recording what went through many parents and sons’ minds in that decade. “Perspectives - Legacy” you left some very good thoughts and readers will probably start thinking!
2.    Perryton Herald — Columnist Kim Flowers Cothren. “Can you relate? – Mouse space invader” Well done. Kept the reader’s interest all through. “Can you relate? Dec. 19” Interesting but did have difficulty getting into it at first.
3.    San Benito News — Columnist Martha A. McClain. “Can art really replace graffiti? and “School district problems seem to be brewing” On both of these articles, while I had some difficulty getting into it, this writer was attempting to accomplish something and that is terrific!
4.    The Canyon News — Columnist Brad Tooley. “Community’s commitment warms heart” Readers can relate to style of writing and seem to become involved and want to stay with it. “Teaching daughter to drive” Who couldn’t relate to this article if they had a teen-ager? It brought memories. Well done!
Division 6, Weeklies 3,001 or More
1.    The Countywide, Karnes City — Columnist Joe Baker. “Tragedy at Texas A&M” A great amount of emotion is shown in this article. Also the strength of “family” ties. “I turned 34 Sunday” A commentary very many people can identify with. A nice, light-hearted treatment.
2.    Frio-Nueces Current, Pearsall — Columnist Darina Van Cleve. “Higher ground” You can have a lot emotion for places that were important to you. Good story-writing style. Very interesting. I enjoyed every word. The references to signatures, the importance of names, made me think.
3.    Jewish Herald-Voice, Houston — Columnist Herschel Zvi. “Remembering Rabin” A thoughtful piece. “Enough is enough” I like the comparison of King David (Bible) to Clinton and today’s nosy world.
4.    Herane Democrat — Columnist Gracia Thibodeaux. “Super Bowl was great” Interesting comparison between sports and politics. “Green house effect” Well done. Nice and interesting.

Division 7, Weeklies 2,001 to 3,000
1.    Lindale News & Times — Columnist Rusty Mitchum. “Birthday gifts” I definitely related to this one and laughed all the way through. “Opposites detract” I couldn’t stop laughing. I wish my spouse were here so we could write our own version.
2.    Cedar Hill Sentinel — Columnist Lou Antonelli. “Why people are cynical” Very interesting. These thoughts are not really new but you lend authority to them by mentioning the book and its author’s credentials. Good for you for putting these ideas into print. “When I lay down my burden” How touching. Anyone who has ever had lost a pet would be moved by this article. Luke’s personality and character are very strong in the article and are not trivialized by belonging to a pet.
3.    Medina Valley Times, Lytle — Columnist Kathleen Bachus. “Guarding the fort” Good lead. Strong writing. “Chest puffers need to chill” Grabs your interest right away. Very strong writing.
4.    Lancaster Today — Columnist Chuck Bloom. “The punishment does not fit the crime” Very strong writing. It states your opinion the way it is and no punches pulled! “How do you handle a family tragedy?” Powerful. A situation every parent would hope to not have to handle. A documentary of how one person’s poor choices can and do affect others.

Division 8 , Weeklies 1,201 to 2,000
1.    Hico News-Review — Columnist Jerry McAdams. “I was watching ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’” Perfectly done. I’m sure that’s my final answer. “A few weeks before Christmas” Touching. It is interesting and poignant even though I didn’t know Coleman. The article is a tribute to him but is also about something more.
2.    Hansford County Reporter-Statesman — Columnist Gary C. Smith. “Laugh and live” Please outline next time. Short and to the point. This column makes a great impact. Good for you for congratulating a coach for emphasizing character. Great parody. I enjoyed it.
3.    Lexington Leader — Columnist Linda Conn. “The Thanksgiving turkey” Not your typical turkey talk. The way you expanded on your “extravagances” was a great pleasure to read. “When it hurt too much to smile” This column must have been difficult to write, but I’m sure it was a help to some people who also suffer from depression. I was truly happy to read that you got help and support.
4.    Lake Cities Sun, Lake Dallas — Columnist Jason Roberts. “Traffic jam” Haven’t we all been there or watched others who are? Very humorous approach to a maddening situation. “Running/hello” An interesting story. Easy to read through.

Division 9 , Weeklies 1,200 or Less
1.    Keene Star — Columnist Paul Gnadt. “A walk on the rocks” The ‘it’s like working with Smokey the Bear who has sprouted longhorns’ is a superb visual. Loved it. “What if Littleton teens live in Keene?” Excellent column.
2.    Ingleside Index — Columnist Bill DeFries. “I deed sydus rebideez for dis code id by doze” I can see your readers now. Been there done that comments in hand. Nice writing. “Got elk” Loved the column. It put everything into perspective. Nice job.
3.    Morton Tribune — Columnist Melinda Gandy. “West Texas wit” Good job. “Fourth of July,” enjoyed reading this one. The visuals you created were all there. Nice.
4.    The Bulletin & Bullard Weekly News — Columnist Phillip E. Mahfood. “As I see it” I enjoyed the column. Nice writing. Rethink though your use of paragraphs. They can be used as tools to help guide your readers through. Note: Commas, periods, etc. go inside of quotation marks. i.e. Roseanne,”