2000 Better Newspaper Contest — News Writing

Division 2, Dailies 7,000 to 99,999
1.    The Beaumont Enterprise — As close to perfect spot news coverage as I’d ever hope to see. Great mix of hard facts and human-interest storytelling. Simple, yet colorful writing styles. Great use of separate stories to tell all aspects of an event without weighing down a reader with one or two very, very long stories. The writing lets the people tell the story. A couple of wonderful examples of how solid reporting can be good storytelling. And all done on a strict deadline. Bravo!
2.    The Galveston County Daily News — A marvelous job of taking complex issues and breaking them down for average readers to understand. I like that the stories were broken with subheads, but using sidebars might have helped even more. Overall, excellent research and reporting. I salute the reporter and newspaper for taking the time and effort to inform their readers on subjects many in the media would avoid because of the complexity.
3.    The Courier, Conroe — Great reporting on the DWI story. I salute the newspaper for going the extra miles in investigating the incident. The other story was solid, but seemed to come more from standard reports, news conferences and legal proceedings. In both cases, the readability would have been enhanced by breaking the information into more stories. For example, the DWI could have had one chronology story and one or two with reaction.
4.    Laredo Morning Times — Good, solid straight news reporting. Good job in getting quotes from the people involved in each story. One glaring fact missing from the plane story was the number of passengers.

Division 3, Dailies Less Than 7,000
1.    Athens Daily Review — This writer did a noble job of digging into the disputes of a family that lead to murder and into the middle of an angry crowd of protestors. That says it all about this reporter! Top notch!
2.    Sulphur Spring News-Telegram — This was a first-class entry with strong reporting. You can tell the writer was very serious about covering these two stories as comprehensive as possible. Story on settlement has great detail, but maybe a bit lengthy. Otherwise, good efforts.
3.    The Terrell Tribune — These are strong stories dealing with some devastating circumstances. This writer went to the ends of the earth for these stories. Outstanding!
4.    Waxahachie Daily Light — These are two strong entries. This writer shows the ability to put together a variety of news stories. Both show many emotions, sadness, frustration and respect. Job well done!

Division 4, Semiweeklies 4,001 or More
1.    Wharton Journal-Spectator — Both stories well-written and interesting. Perhaps more feature-oriented than some, but still good examples of newswriting. Good effort by Mr. (Ron) Sanders.
2.    The Irving News — Nice, intriguing lead on missing girl story. It made me want to read more. Follow-up story wasn’t as captivating but still was interesting.
3.    The Mabank Monitor — I liked the “who’s the boss” story. Excellent read. Road use story was good, too.
4.    Panola Watchman, Carthage — Good effort. Kept reader involved in both stories.

Division 5, Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less
1.    The Canyon News — Different subjects. Both good stories. Well-planned and well-written.
2.    Quanah Tribune-Chief — Sound, interesting stories. The Houston Kin story could have been routine, but was not. (Could have done without “she got it right” unless a source said it.)
3.    Rockwall Texas Success — Sound, readable governmental writing.
4.    Ellis County Chronicle — Two, sound, well-written local stories.

Division 6, Weeklies 3,001 or More
1.    The Jasper NewsBoy — Berry story - The dialogue (debate) between the prosecutor and defense was handled masterfully. Water authority story - The main story outlines the problem. Two associated stories give perspective from both the water authority and commission that oversees the project.
2.    Colorado City Record — I really like your writing. Easy to read and understand.
3.    The Free Press, Buda — Prose flows beautifully and is concise and easily understood.
4.    Mt. Vernon Optic-Herald — Stories were well-written, informative and concise.

Division 7, Weeklies 2,001 to 3,000
1.    Iowa Park Leader — Two sound, well-written news stories.
2.    Aransas Pass Progress — Sound news stories.
3.    The Bridgeport Index — Excellent well story. Child death serious, but weaker.
4.    The Big Bend Sentinel — Well-handled stories on difficult subjects.

Division 8, Weeklies 1,201 to 2,000
1.    Castroville News-Bulletin — Clearly the best in this category. Excellent mix of news, details and human interest. You can tell the writer has a heart for the community and has the trust of people who gave her so many details. This really reflected a newspaper with a soul for community journalism.
2.    The Citizen, Clear Lake — Good examples of straight news and news/feature writing. Some hard facts on the hotel implosion process (ie. explosives uses, costs, etc.) would have made a good sidebar. Also, I wanted to see some reaction from the petitioners in the lawsuit story.
3.    Palacios Beacon — Good, solid reporting on both stories. The bee experience really comes through because you let the victim tell his story in his words. The police investigation story has all the elements of what’s happening with some explanation of the citizens concerns.
4.    Alvarado Star — Lots of good information in both stories. They were a little tough to follow at times. That could have been helped by the use of sidebars. For example, on the standoff, separate reaction from the chronology of events. In the fire department story, separate the “what’s going on” story from what it means to individual residents.

Division 9, Weeklies 1,200 or Less
1.    De Leon’s Monitor — Both stories are well-written and have strong news value. The murder story is sad and frightening, but the writer conveys the scene through his words. The “inmates” story is a good example of good reporting through thorough interviewing. Good facts. Good quotes. Journalistically sound. Good lead on murder story.
2.    The Clarendon Enterprise — “Fugitive” story is good in head and lead but it was a little confusing at first. “Judge orders city …” is a solid news story. I like that you could give us a story and not need 20-30 inches of info. You sorted out pertinent info, gave it to readers and got out.
3.    Martin County Messenger — Good background. Plenty of info in both stories.
4.    Burnet County Citizens-Gazette — Trash story well done and I enjoyed the headline. Good info shared with readers.