2003 Better Newspaper Contest — Column Writing


Division 2, Dailies
Division 3, Dailies
Division 4, Semiweeklies
Division 5, Semiweeklies
Division 6, Weeklies
Division 7, Weeklies
Division 8, Weeklies
Division 9, Weeklies
Division 10, Weeklies

Column Writing

Division 2 Dailies 7,000 to 99,999

1st. The Galveston County Daily News, Dolph Tillotson — “We meddle for a good reason” Excellent style, quick, clever, interesting. Passionate feel to writing. One concern, I was uncomfortable with the “we do it better than other ‘bland’ community papers” take. “Golf should never ruin a good walk” Again, excellent style, very tight sentences, easy read even if you’re not into golf. Good story.

2nd. Midland Reporter-Telegram, Gary Ott — “Wellstone family must have been a throwback to earlier era” Thought provoking with a fresh slant to this story. All the good things a column should be. “Former Klansman helps improve race relations … how truly ironic” Difficult to make a story that was essentially old feel fresh, but this column does a good job of it. Well written.

3rd. The Beaumont Enterprise, Thomas Taschinger — “Yates husband must answer for family’s fate” Excellent job of selling author’s point. Brings out some news facts and elicits strong response. “Lincoln’s party remembers roots” Again this columnist skilled at taking a story that’s been hashed and rehashed and makes reader care about it in a new way.

4th. New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, Doug Toney — “Versailles offers insights into dangers of waiting” Hooray for anyone who can make history relevant in this too fast-paced atmosphere. Let’s hope this column was shared with our school children. Excellent and thought provoking work. “Exhaust all possibilities before resorting to bonds” Good community service reporting reflecting newspaper’s role in community.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1st. Waxahachie Daily Light, Neal White — “To our veterans, ‘thanks’” Very moving piece and easy for readers to relate to. “A memorable anniversary” No comment.

2nd. Alice Echo News Journal, Tony Morris — “AISD is in good hands” and “Needs of the global unfortunate must be met” Morris addresses the facts and offers solutions in both pieces. These columns are a good length and keep the reader’s attention.

3rd. Henderson Daily News, Tony Floyd — “Texas: Big-shot talk on a dime budget” and “Life with a serial Christmas decorator” Great writer who is funny, but makes a good point with his columns.

4th. Alice Echo News Journal, Nicole Perez — “Don’t forget the children” and “Effects of our decisions” No comments.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1st. Uvalde Leader-News, Craig Garnett — “Skunk remedy very strange but effective” Enchanting blend of heart and humor. You make the mundane into intrigue. Well done. “EMT realized dream of helping others” What a great way to memorialize someone special. Very well written, and what a powerful close. Fare and above all other entries in this class.

2nd. Port Lavaca Wave, John Lowman — “Hero…” Very heartfelt and powerful, with a great close. Lots of heart. “When men burn cook” This column shows your breadth as a writer — heart and humor — something, somewhere in the scope of your writing connects with someone. Excellent overall.

3rd. Round Rock Leader, Mike Eddleman — “Campaign ads enough to ruin your appetite” This is a great subject and you treat it well, but more sarcasm is definitely demanded. You start for it, but it trails off. Good illustration of the problem, and you didn’t forget to offer a solution. Good. “Parents have drained true mission from school sports” Good for you for having the courage to write this column. Could have used more input from those ex-coaches if you could have tracked them down (by deadline!) Like “campaign ads” you have great instinct for topic, but I think you need to give a little sharper treatment.

4th. Wharton Journal-Spectator, Ron Sanders — “Our government, our money” and “Any bang for the non-tax break?” These are both excellent political commentary on solid topics, but I like to see a little more personality in column writing. You cover it well, but drive your point home with some clever humor.

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1st. Gatesville Messenger, Marshall Day — “We here at the Messenger…” Columnist has a very nice pace to his writing. A pleasure to read. “Eggs are real high…” A good column should always be one the reader can relate to. Nice job!

2nd. The Highlander (Marble Falls), Gary D. Parsons — “Regents did the right thing” Columnist does a great job making the reader care about his subject, even if I’ve never heard of SWTSU. Excellent job. “Hurry up and use those stamps” Nice job on making a subject often written about seem new and interesting.

3rd. Quanah Tribune Chief, Carol Ann Whitmire — “Hey, Mr. Tallyman, Tally Me Bananas” Excellent column, very creative and entertaining. “Prose & Cons” Wonderful writing.

4th. The Canyon News, Greg Jaklewicz — “An overdue letter to the Old man” Poignant, lovely written. “If you build it they will come unglued” Clever tone on subject.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1st. Azle News, Edwin Newton — “A dollar for Dave, or for me?” I like how you took a personal anecdote and made it mean something. “From the ashes of his family, minister’s mission is hope” You tell us Lee Williams’ story but it’s more than just a feature. It really means something.

2nd. The Jasper NewsBoy, Julie Webb — “‘Do you serve coloreds back here?’ a question that has haunted her for 30 years” Nice job of reminiscing while keeping it relevant to us today, too. “As they say, ‘the show must go on’” Good imagery — the Quasimodo walk to the bed and clipping fingernails in a Cuisinart.

3rd. Azle News, Bob Buckel — “New Red, Old Black, and me” Funny idea with clever word play. “Bazillions of Brazilians” a favorite. “Taking magic, and ghosts, to the new location” What a great tribute — not to a building but to the sense of history and community that lives through our small-town newspapers.

4th. River Cities Tribune (Marble Falls), Chris Crews — “Our journey into infamy” No comment. “Punch-outs we would all like to see” Good exploration of the ridiculousness of “reality” TV.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1st. The Countywide (Karnes City), Joe Baker — “INS needs reform, better jokes” Thanks for taking me on this personal tour of the INS. We hear about it but you’ve had the rare “pleasure” of experiencing it. Amazing! “A well-kept secret” You made me want to visit Karnes County. Sounds like a special place.

2nd. Frio-Nueces Current (Pearsall), Donna Van Cleve — “Woman thou art loosed…” Great column! A fun look at the life of a parent. Sounds as if you and your family have a great relationship. “Piece by piece” Nice job.

3rd. Blanco County News, Sheryl Smith-Rodgers — “What’s that missing from your head?” I’m going to ask my hairstylist about this — or not! “Simple pleasures are best” A nice glimpse at life in your family.

4th. Pittsburg Gazette, Syble French — “I hope all of you have your Easter bonnets ready” and “Decking the halls with boughs of cough syrup” I really enjoyed your columns and jokes!

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1st. Iowa Park Leader, Kari Collins — “On Second Thought(2)” Great columns. Thank God for the ’90s. First sports column I’ve enjoyed.

2nd. Farmersville Times, Greg T. Hall — “Toes and Trees, a Christmas decision” and “Move over Ann, he’s The Advice Guy” I prefer your advice to that of the real Ann. Loved the columns.

3rd. Pilot Point Post-Signal, David Lewis — “Tom Porter’s garden” Nice job of reminiscing. Good mix of humor in editorials. “Freedom’s just over the verizon” Sooo true.

4th. Monahans News, Bill Modisett — “‘Dummy’ bombs certainly a big deal” and “ Politics: Man’s ‘Greatest Pursuit’” No comments.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1st. Ingleside Index, Bill DeFries — “Maggie’s Ground…” and “Not Done Walking” Both pieces are seriously engaging, thought-provoking and force the gamut of reader emotion. Damn, this guy’s good!

2nd. The Canadian Record, Laurie Ezzell Brown — “I like to think” Nice handling of a serious and difficult topic. “Pop” Great auditory and visual description. Your writing at times is reminiscent of Leonard Pitts. Nicely done.

3rd. The Clarendon Enterprise, Christi Ross — “New minivan makes mommy look un-cool” Funny topic, but not hit-you-over-the-head humor. Good “punchline” at the end. “Californy is where these kinfolks ought to be” This was great. Nice job of tying national pop culture into something local.

4th. The Canadian Record, Seth Davidson — “Teaching classical music” Clever twist at the end. I loved it. “Chocolate skunk” Great punchline at the end.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1st. Keene Star, Paul Gnadt — “City council’s vote in favor of annexation at tonight’s meeting is the best thing for Keene” Excellent style compensates for columns that are 20 percent longer than they need to be. On the other hand, this meandering summary of events did have a solid point, and you were able to provide historical significance to community events. “A hush falls over the voice of summer” Flowing, poetic writing style. Kept my attention throughout. (Would like the have seen a return to Elvis in your conclusion.) Clearly the best.

2nd. The Brackett News, Shanae Simmons — “Are there other forms of life?” Simple, clean writing style. You allowed your readers to enter your fantasies about the origins of human life, but you also documented your suspicions. You are a talented writer, keep it up. “A good life lesson” Amazing. Out of all the entries, yours was one of the few that turned a personal experience to a universal morality story. Not preachy. Not overly cute. Amazing for a writer so young to be able to reflect critically upon her own misbehavior.

3rd. The Eldorado Success, Randy Mankin — “Veilmaker, yet another line on my resume” This was fun for you to write, but I found it hard to follow. Too personal without anything in it for the reader. (Would like to see you write more for your reader.) “Occasionally, Halloween pranks will backfire” Well written. Cute twist at the end. Better column of the two. In fact, one of the best of entries.

4th. Gladewater Mirror, Bob Runyon — “Baby girl’s Navy talk scuttles daddy’s humor” Well done. (Your rating comes from this column because the other mostly was lifted from Internet.) I could picture your daughter, “attitude in place.” “You want heroes? Teachers are filling the gap” Touching, strong, accurate. But couldn’t place high because most of it was not original.