2002 Better Newspaper Contest — Editorials

Division 2 Dailies
1st. The Baytown Sun – “The attack on America” by David Bloom. Very good! You caught the mood very well on something that touched all Americans. The last sentence says it all. “Texas should sound off” by Wanda Garner Cash. Very good! It is all right there – the issue, the action, the consequences, the charge for the future. Well thought out with important local significance and a tie into regional personality. I like the addition of the AG’s phone/fax #. It gives readers an opportunity to become personally involved.
2nd. The Beaumont Enterprise – By Tom Taschinger. “Orange County deserves deputies citizens can trust” What is it with cops, their zippers and the public trust?! Am always amazed! This just lays it all out there. You present the case, show what White has done and presented a reasonable response from the public. “Departure of neurosurgeons raises concerns” Crucial issue to all rural areas! This is more and more going to be an issue demanding attention in communities and is something all newspapers should present to readers. This presents the problem, the consequences and what the public can do to possibly resolve the situation.
3rd. The Galveston County Daily News – By Heber Taylor. “Free speech defines us” Excellent thoughts. I bet they weren’t entirely popular in some corners! In fact, is there really anyone who is infallible on any topic – not just politics? “This time, the law failed” Go get ’em! Keep fighting for the public’s right to know. That is one of the cornerstones of a free press!
4th. The Herald Coaster Rosenberg – “County needs facility policy” Good, short, to the point, no rambling around here. A direct question posed to the commissioners to act upon. “Redistricting a difficult task” Again good and to the point. By the way, like the “pat on the back” above the edit.

Division 3 Dailies
1st. Texas City Sun – By Dale Dimitri. “Don’t let terrorists destroy ideals that make us Americans” Well-reasoned, clearly written. Dimitri added his voice to the hundreds of editors who called for restraint after Sept. 11, and he did it well. “City correct to shoot down tax abatement” Excellent local editorial. Did not issue a blanket condemnation of tax abatement, but picked apart the holes in this one, naming names as he went. Great job!
2nd. Vernon Daily Record – “Protecting children remains responsibility of all citizens” Great job. Identifies the problem, suggests solutions, calls for everyone’s participation. Clearly written, direct, pointed. “Unity of citizens may be key to US victory over terrorists” It’s hard to stand out from the chorus on Sept. 11, but this one succeeds with its simple, uncluttered and clear message. A perfect formula is to state the point, support it, repeat it and get out. I wish more editorials did it as well as these.
3rd. Seguin Gazette-Enterprise – “To NISD trustee Debbie Grieder” Very good job. Makes a case for open government and personal responsibility of a board member without sounding like a whiny newspaper that couldn’t get information. Cites facts that were in the memo and clearly states why these should have been discussed in public. Bravo! “Don’t sell the landfill” I’m still not sure why the city shouldn’t sell the landfill if the would-be buyer “appears to be an outstanding company with no environmental violations and a solid financial position.” Apparently there’s more to this than the readers were told. Piece is too long and muddled by the attempt at evenhandedness. Convince me.
4th. Athens Daily Review – “Liberty should not be a casualty of war” Well-reasoned, not whiny. Watch clichés “cast a blind eye” and $4 words like penultimate – which means next to last, so how can something be “one of the penultimate shields?” See. Kind of unique. “Calling all candidates” Crisply written. Good message. A newspaper should pound away on this one. If it stirs one citizen to serve, you’ve succeeded.

Division 4 Semiweeklies
1st. Williamson County Sun – “Getting G’town back on track” Very good job putting a crucial issue in historical context. The writing is straight-forward and moves ahead logically, reaching a sound conclusion. “Georgetown can grow well” Much-needed words of caution about growth. Writing is in everyday, colorful terms.
2nd. Round Rock Leader – “Sheriff’s office must dig deeper” Very well done. Short and to the point. “Little League baseball gone bad” Good commentary on life and how things can go wrong.
3rd. Wharton Journal-Spectator – “Public notice ads under attack” Good example – and a local one at that – of the need for public notices. “Progress would suddenly halt” Good pitch for local project.
4th. The Graham Leader – “Yes, it can happen here” Nice anecdote at the top. Good editorial for parents and others trying to make sense of the senseless. “Planning moves Graham forward” Good job encouraging and, in a way, leading the city toward growth.

Division 5 Semiweeklies
1st. The Perryton Herald – “Death penalty deters” Very well-reasoned editorial on the death penalty. Relies on a factual case instead of the usual emotional arguments. Well done! “Vote yes for college” Nicely done. It’s a simple endorsement, but well-argued with facts. Watch the copy editing – “the board, in their approval” and “the dreams…evaporates” and “there are over a hundred” more than. These errors dent a very good editorial. Get a Stylebook.
2nd. The Angleton Times – By Linda Winder. “So much depends on her pink shoes” Unusual style, but effective. It’s almost a teaser but it kept me reading. “Angleton’s institution” A nice tribute to a local institution. This paper realizes an important thing has happened.
3rd. Lampasas Dispatch Record – “Census figures show threat to the family unit” A voice in the wilderness calls for regeneration of the nuclear family. An uphill battle, but one that probably struck home with reader. This editorial endorses not motherhood, but family-hood. Some might mock it, but recalling and reminding a community of values is still an important job for those of us who still believe in them. “Human cloning: Growing life to destroy it” Well-reasoned. Clearly written.
4th. The Clifton Record – By W. Leon Smith. “Some links to tradition fading away” Asks more questions than it supplies answers. Sometimes that works as a way to make people think. This is one of those. “TNRCC plan just more politics” Buries the lead but is an effective commentary.

Division 6 Weeklies
1st. The Azle News – By Bob Buckel. “Dissed again: Parker County leaves voters out” Quickly to the point in your opening paragraph. Well-documented. Explains what will happen if – action prescribed in your conclusion. “Finally a tax break for Parker County” Good informal lead that attracts reader interest. Explanations are clearly presented. Again fine conclusion.
2nd. Coppell Citizens Advocate – By Jean Murph. “City should keep tight rein on its sales tax dollars” Could pep up lead here. Get to subject of debate. “As of May…” slow opener. “An emergency: Will you respond?” Well developed – step by step. Three areas well defined with supporting data. Effective measure to provide addresses, etc. to stimulate action on part of readers.
3rd. Austin Business Journal – “It’s all about the right deal” Good lead attracting readers followed by details of what it is all about. Good recommendations at end. “Chuy’s bitten by controversy” Well-presented editorial. Subject matter fully explained with suggestions for what might have been done and conclusion appropriate too.
4th. Port Aransas South Jetty – By Mary Judson. “A tourist town and a community” Effective opener to attract reader. Apparently some research done here – specific details offered. You raise a question, then you answer it with facts. Conclusion appropriate. Good Chamber of Commerce material. “Graduated drivers’ licensing a life-saver” Lead invites further reading. Restrictions explained well. What was your recommendation? Same as Bivins?

Division 7 Weeklies
1st. The Cameron Herald – “Resounding silence” Good lead. Questions are raised. Suggestions and solutions offered. Well-written. Should cause citizen to ask for more details – it’s their money being spent.” “Klansmen have no place on police force” Good lead makes you wonder so you read on. Good comments on “rights.” Always a debatable topic – KKK – but handled well here.
2nd. Colorado County Citizen – “The ‘footloose’ syndrome?” by Tana Ross. Good opening paragraph. Otherwise might lose potential reader if start with youth vs. alcohol topic. Conclusion good too, “parents.” “Public servants walk the line” Another good lead. Readers will wonder about topic and, hopefully, will read on. Some rather long paragraphs.
3rd. Elgin Courier – “Our hands and hearts reach across America” by Glynda Schroeder. Excellent lead. Challenge to readers to read more. Well put together examples. Conclusion well developed. “The new face of veterans in the wake of Sept. 11” by Patty Finney. More of a feature item. Not too much of a controversy here.
4th. North San Antonio Times – “U.S. should return to normal” Good lead and good conclusion. Booster-type subject that few could debate actions. “Parents, set good example” Not really a new subject. Good research however.

Division 8 Weeklies
1st. Pilot Point Post Signal – By David Lewis. “How to get what you want for the PPISD” Right to the point. Good examples to support issue. Good conclusion. “Census confirms our growth” Good information. Suggestions offered. Has some Chamber of Commerce-type report but you get issues across.
2nd. The Monahans News – “Let’s shout about moment of silence” Localize lead better to ensure readership. Good explanation of topic. Good research. Is date so important you need as opener? “recently” or back into “daily minute of silence” lead. “Monahans residents should want prison” You quickly get to the subject. Good reference material.
3rd. Crowley Star – By Joy Cressler. “Rivalry monster rears its green head – again” An editorial, or an “answer” to complaints? Good background data offered. Good conclusion. But what if nobody said, or wrote, anything about what you do? “Tragic stories are never easy to report” Well researched. Good to point out problems.
4th. Frio Nueces Current – By Marc Robertson. “A view from the bridge” Good start. Watch overuse of “I” leads. Needs local tie-in. No veterans there? Good research indicated. Philosophical approach? Needs more local application.

Division 9 Weeklies
1st. Midlothian Today – “The Midlothian animal farm communally unfair” Interesting, informative. More like a feature, but you still get down to conclusions and recommendations. “Impact fees should be set on reality” Good. Questions then answers. Specific examples helpful too.
2nd. Castroville News Bulletin – “Yes, blast it” Good lead. Well explained, as in a news story. “Message to students” Well presented. Good advice offered. Secret meetings permitted in Texas? Good recommendation on how to vote. Good controversy.
3rd. The Canadian Record – “See change at CISD” More of a news account than an editorial. Factual material helpful. “What’s wrong with economic development?” Long paragraphs. Strong background material to help the readers understand the issues. Well-written conclusion.
4th. The Clear Lake Citizen – “Can folks believe Port’s promise?” More of a routine news account than an editorial. Only last paragraph like an editorial. You raise a lot of questions. “A strange way of doing things” More like an editorial. Issues are offered, explained briefly. What are your recommendations?

Division 10 Weeklies
1st. Burnet County Citizens-Gazette – “Bike law borders on the absurd” Well done. You explain the issue and then note the controversy that has been created. The writing is clean, should be understood by all. “Both sides have their rights” Similar statements. Both issues are such that readers might vote either way regardless but these editorials are worth their time to read.
2nd. The Clarendon Enterprise – By Roger Estlack. “Legal notices should not be tampered with” Well presented on issues. Specifics are helpful to understand issues involved. Missouri’s involved in a similar area. “City-county alliances aren’t always ideal” Strong lead. Well explained, documented account. Examples are frequently used to emphasize a point.
3rd. Benbrook Star – “We’ve got spirit, yes we do” More of a pep rally-type column. Good for Chamber of Commerce use. More like a good column on the Sports page. “Coming together” More of a news account. Not much controversy involved. Subject adequately explained.
4th. None awarded.