2000 Better Newspaper Contest — Editorials

Division 2, Dailies 7,000 to 99,999
1.    The Galveston County Daily News — Writer Kelly Hawes. “Stretching the rules to fit the occasion” Thought-provoking commentary on a city council’s unwillingness to stand up for what’s right. Government by quagmire just won’t get it done. Hawes clearly stands up and sets the record straight like a good editorial should. “Parks in peril” A never-ending saga. People want parks, but won’t pay what is needed in taxes to maintain them. The use of photos helps the writer to get his point across. Good job!
2.    The Beaumont Enterprise — “Kountze council abuses authority” The editorial writer does what a good editorial writer is supposed to do, hit hard and not be concerned about the consequences. One of the best editorials in the class. Great job! “Video crackdown handled poorly” Another solid effort. Why mom-and-pop stores are punished while the real “hardcore” stores are left alone is a real outrage. The paper stands up for what’s right!
3.    The Paris News — “Fair is fair …” People want corporations to come to their towns and bring jobs. Then corporations want to set their own rules. Great job of standing up for what is right and fair. Good luck! “Quit taking bad advice” When a city council won’t act in the interest of the citizens it is supposed to serve, it’s the job of the press to stand up and be heard. Another solid effort.
4.    New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung — “The answer to road rage” Well thought-out editorial! The senseless death of a man, if it was road rage, makes the writer’s words have even more meaning. The tone is not condescending, it speaks to the reader as a friend with some good advice. “CISD should reconsider bell schedule” Schools and kids - everybody has an opinion. The paper took a stand not by being rude, but by kindly pointing out the flaws in the school board’s reasoning.

Division 3, Dailies Less Than 7,000
1.    Plainview Daily Herald — “Tribute makes us all stand taller, prouder” good job of highlighting a positive community event. “Loss of innocence is felt in Floydada” It was insightful to show local effect of national school violence.
2.    Waxahachie Daily Light — “Right thing to do” This was a top-notch piece of writing on a significant local figure. “Justice served?” An interesting look at local drunken driving case.
3.    Taylor Daily Press — “Attack on openness” I like your strong stand for open meetings. “The year we almost fixed our streets …” I liked this editorial very much. You are performing a valuable watchdog role.
4.    Texas City Sun — Writer Dale Dimitri. “Jasper judge’s order infringes on press’ freedom” I like this strong stand for freedom of the press. “The death penalty is fatally flawed” Nice job of pointing out flaws in death penalty system.

Division 4, Semiweeklies 4,001 or More
1.    Williamson County Sun — “Three better ideas” Both editorials very well done. Liked the way you handled these ideas in your editorial and the piece is clear. I know what you’re talking about and I don’t live there. “Cardinal virtue” Well said — and that’s about enough said. Good example to make point.
2.    Burleson Star — Writers Phil Robbins and Sally Ellertson. “Accountability” and “More students taking SAT” I like it. You are to be congratulated for taking stand that too many are afraid to. Your handling of these issues was not only important, but done tactfully yet with a message behind it. If it’s any consolation, your area is not the only area afflicted by this problem. That’s the sad commentary.
3.    Hood County News — Writers Leland DeBusk and Roger Enlow. “Let’s make our courts safe” Hurray. Someone made a point in less than 20 inches? Great argument for safety’s sake. “School uniforms unwarranted” Loved it. Great writing style, good points. The “this is public school, not a plaid school” line was catchy.
4.    The Graham Leader — “Will ruling create more questions?” and “Living life requires risk” Liked the way you worked local examples into both pieces. You have a storytelling style that works well.

Division 5, Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less
1.    The Angleton Times — Writers Tommy Crow and Valerie Collins. “Open government is essential to freedom” Few people realize that their rights to know are slowly being eroded. You let then know in a clear style. Good closing comment. I liked this piece. “Veterans deserve better health care” It’s good to see papers this size not ignoring Congressional issues when they have big impact locally. Good points, well written.
2.    San Benito News — “Supporting the STYSS and more …” and “No April Fool’s joke about it — Register to vote” Tough choice between your two entries and winner’s. Really enjoyed your style (and layout was best). You have a way of connecting to your readers without being harsh. I sense you have a good feel for your readership and paper is a leader in community.
3.    The Canyon News — “Kiper asking to get paid for position not needed” Strong lead, but then drifts a bit with too much explanation. Paragraphs four through eight aren’t needed. I’m being too critical here, and I liked the opinion. “There’s gold in Randall County” Best of your two pieces. Good lead, good point, no drifting. Concise and works well, I think.
4.    Lampasas Dispatch-Record — “Allowing prayer in schools” I was a little unsure of your stance until well I into editorial. Think it should have been made very clear in lead. You made some good points, just would have liked them made earlier. “Modest tax hike funds improved services” Good piece. It’s not always easy or popular to defend a tax hike, but newspapers tend to follow government more closely than their readers and, at times, must defend tax hikes. I think you made your point well.

Division 6, Weeklies 3,001 or More
1.    The Examiner, Navasota — “County needs non-partisan group” Generally well done. How will group maintain its non-partisan flavor? Next to last paragraph makes a strong statement. “Lessons learned” Excellent editorial. Offers just enough background. Most important are the recommendations for making a bad situation better. Tight writing.
2.    Austin Business Journal — “Vote also says ‘no’ to future” Interesting link between vote and the future. Logical approach to a review of the electorate’s decision. “Pick up tempo in leader hunt” Good subject to introduce urgency to the process. Too much reliance on the editorial “we.” Same holds true for first editorial.
3.    The Jasper NewsBoy — “There’s more for which to be thankful than we know” Good take-off on traditional Thanksgiving theme. Reasons to not be thankful add impact to the positive example to follow. “Rumors allow hate groups to achieve disruption here” Editorial does good job of highlighting unseen consequences of the absenteeism. Logical editorial.
4.    Park Cities People, Dallas — Writer Ray Wilkerson. “Let’s thank the police for doing the parents’ job” Too many editorial writers fail to give background. This editorial goes too far the other direction with its reliance on the 1995 incident. That overshadows the current situation. “Scott Smith will always transcend Xs and Os” Nice salute. Good job of showing the coach as a multi-faceted individual. Good ending.

Division 7, Weeklies 2,001 to 3,000
1.    Lancaster Today — “Adult support of children’s activities required for success” Good job of pinpointing the dilemma of such community facilities. Overall the best editorial in Division 7. “Lancaster needs new postal facility” Strong statement for a civic improvement that many people might overlook. Sound reasoning and suggestion on how to get the job done.
2.    Big Bend Sentinel, Marfa — Writer Robert Halpren. “Marfa DA office a good idea” Editorial can help heal some apparent wounds. Newspaper is making positive impact on local community. Good background. “Streets should be renamed to honor fallen veterans” Editorial shows balance, consideration of opposing points of view. Eliminate second person with more creative writing.
3.    Aransas Pass Progress — Writer John Lowman. “A bitter wedge” Need to eliminate first and second person usage. Editorial demonstrates good level of knowledge about the subject. “Silencing God” Reads more like a column. That is writing style. Interesting subject, however. Good lead sentence. “We’ve gone far beyond …” paragraph has tremendous impact.
4.    Cedar Hill Sentinel — Writer Lou Antonelli. “Efforts needed to preserve natural beauty” That is like describing the occasional trees in the Nebraska Sandhills as an oasis of beauty. The point is a micro-subject that has become a focal point. Good job! “Now here’s a sneaky idea” Need more editorial writing style as opposed to column style. Interesting ideas, though, particularly with the suggested street names. Humor helps bring home the article’s point.

Division 8, Weeklies 1,201 to 2,000
1.    Castroville News-Bulletin — “Fish and visitors?” Good headline. Good comparison with National Forest Service time limits. Editorial slips in strength of writing with start of last line in column one. Too much reliance on “our,” “we.” No question much needed at end. This is a statement. Paragraph seven and eighth tie in well with lead. “What’s to hide?” Editorial does a good job highlighting a minute, but significant aspect of public information issue. Good reference at end to Texas law — the specific exemption practice.
2.    The Albany News — “Crucial clinic” Good lead. Editorial shows good understanding of the subject, offers suggestions and is tightly written. “Proper procedure” ‘Their” in first paragraph should be ‘it.’ The district is an ‘it.’ Individuals or groups of them are ‘they, their.’ Lead needs more direct references to the point of a violation of the law.
3.    Alvarado Star — “True Grit” Good contrast with start of girls season with the end. Nice salute to kids who turned their season around. Good headline. Lead is too wordy. “Candidates wanted” Good lead. Second paragraph has run-on sentence structure. Should be two sentences. Avoid use of second person. Last paragraph particularly effective.
4.    The Citizen, Clear Lake — “Seabrook doesn’t need another recall” Editorial makes strong statement. Last sentence is confusing, however. Could have been left off. Blends well the facts with observations of the events surrounding the subject. “It’s time to clamp down on big trucks” I have driven Houston area freeways, so I understand the problem with truckers. More statistical support would help make this entry stronger. (i.e. how many fatal accidents in local area in year, two years, or whatever that were caused by trucks?)

Division 9, Weeklies 1,200 or Less
1.    Burnet County Citizens-Gazette — “Owners need to take responsibility for their pets” Overall a good editorial. Lead could have more impact. The writer eases into the subject. “Taking care of the scum at the park is everyone’s job” Good use of double-meaning of ‘scum.’ Editorial is obviously based on fact. Good use of references when needed.
2.    The Ingleside Index — One entry only. This entry could have been the winner if the second part has been entered appropriately. “Cracks in this end of tobacco road” Well documented. Excellent decision to incorporate the author of the legislation, adds credibility. Good lead. Don’t worry about length. The question should be: “Does the editorial have the space to get the job done?” “Forming a sentence” This entry is really a personal column. It’s make-up looks like a column. It reads like a column and the subject matter is good column material. Therefore it must be a column.
3.    Keene Star — Writer Paul Gnadt. “Tax rate growing” Interesting attention to a passing remark at a public meeting. Excellent documentation, particularly with six years of tax figures. “The facts support a vote for home rule” A good subject for local interest. Eliminate first and second person references.
4.    The Clarendon Enterprise — “American online” What is the local tie? Use of suggestion at end is significant plus. Use of first and second person references deviates from detachment of an editorial versus the function of a column. “Where is our pride?” Good subject with interesting perspective. Hint of editorial is in next to last paragraph. Lead could have tied with it more strongly. Again, use of first and second person.