2003 Better Newspaper Contest — Feature Story


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

Feature Story

Division 2 Dailies 7,000 to 99,999

1st. The Beaumont Enterprise — “Pen and Ink” Andrea Wright. I don’t care for the design with the stacked cutlines and bonus graph. The lede is great. Writing is great. “Fatal journey” Jane McBride. Most stories this long are too long. This wasn’t. Great writing. Great photos. You really told a story.

2nd. The Facts (Clute) — Michael Baker. “The future of Freeport” Good design although I think Ralph David’s full name should have been repeated below byline (or move byline.) Fabulous story. Nicely written. “Seeing the blight” Another informative story. Nicely done. Great info especially in the graphics. Really good business stories.

3rd. The Herald-Coaster (Rosenberg) — “And a shot rang out…” Denise Adams. Best story/subject matter I have read today. How interesting. Well-written. Good design. “U.S. drops a bomb on Hiroshima” B.J. Pollock. Nice take on a veteran. Good writing and I like that you took a chance on the skewed-paper-within-a-paper design.

4th. New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung — Ron Maloney. “Trail mix” I didn’t get the coffee lede for five graphs. Nice writing style. Good pictures/info box. “Date with destiny’ Again it takes a little too long to get to your point. You could pull red wing story out as sidebar. Your writing is good but needs more editing. Nice reporting too. Not as good graphically.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1st. Vernon Daily Record — Joyce Ann Ashley. “Music Memories” Very entertaining. A unique take on both the passage of time and changing musical tastes. “Former POW recounts war experience” Good story with good detail.

2nd. Kilgore News Herald — Becky Crabtree. “The teen vote” Thank you for this. There’s not enough attention to how teens vote. It seems most people expect them to be uninterested in politics. “Lethal Injection” Depressing, but well written. Very informative. I learned a lot about the experience of living on death row.

3rd. Waxahachie Daily Light — Neal White. “An invite from the president” You caught the town’s excitement. “Christmas miracle” You made this a sad/happy story without getting sappy or indulging sentimentalism.

4th. Alice Echo News Journal — Michael A. Perez. “Hoping planting praying” Well written. It made farmers’ struggles more palpable. “Father’s Day a mix of emotions for three dads” Good job of using this sad tale and tying it into Father’s Day. It gave both the tragedy and the holiday deeper significance.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1st. Round Rock Leader — “A Veteran’s Reunion” Andy Marks. Great lead and details draw readers into the incredible story of this reunion! Noteworthy presentation — “then” and “now” mugs plus shot of the two together — great. “1927: A tragedy in Round Rock” Michael Taylor. Always a good idea to have well-told tales of defining moments in the town’s history.

2nd. Beeville Bee-Picayune — Charles Steward. “Sheriff’s deputies often ‘run with bulls’” Any rural reader can relate to this amusing account. Good 10-54 quotes plus the benefits of a good headline. “Sense of humor, will to live help Griffing survive WWII” What a story! Especially the quotes about surviving malaria, beriberi and bronchial pneumonia and the beer split. You do a great job. Both of these stories are well done with good attention to details that matter.

3rd. Wharton Journal-Spectator — Ben Sharp. “Recurring nightmare” This kind of detail about domestic violence is incredible in a story! Hard to imagine one of these women in Texas is a domestic violence victim. Speaks to importance of this story. “Business is jumping at Boling Bunny Farm” What a picture to accompany an appealing, timely story. I wondered how much these rabbits cost.

4th. Uvalde Leader-News — “Rollicking read” Carol Kothmann. More a feature book review with wonderful recollections. Watch spellings, though. “Stadter reflects on smuggling career, latest business venture” Logan Garnett. Rich quotes in this story about this true character. The quotes bring him alive for a reader. What fun you must’ve had interviewing him.

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1st. The Canyon News — Greg Jaklewicz. “The Huey” loved the lede on the huey story. Tremendous! Captures the reader quickly. Well-done. “A testament to faith.” Good narrative style lead.

2nd. Mansfield News-Mirror — “Called to Serve” Mark Wright. Good story, very relevant and written tightly. Good job. “Wall of wonder” Brigitte Cummings. Very good lead.

3rd. Lampasas Dispatch-Record — “Local man supplies rare, obsolete ammunition” Mat Taylor. Nicely done. Great breakout box could have been done on his top customers etc. “Will the real Lyndel Lucas please stand up?” Lisa Carnley. Very interesting lead — more elements readily available to enhance the presentation.

4th. Moore County News-Press — Lauri Zachry. “Going…going…gone” Good idea for photo display. Nice fast facts box. “Singing jailer heads to Branson” No comment.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1st. Austin Business Journal — Mary Alice Kaspar. “Visions and values from Vietnam” Nice feature filled with a lot of information so you really understand Joe Beal’s values and visions. “A heart in overdrive” Great feature. I really got to know Nyle Maxwell and understand his drive.

2nd. Duncanville Today — “The road less traveled” Mark Robinson. Pulled me along, good story. Good photos. “The loss of Leesley” Mundye Perez. Heart moving.

3rd. The Jasper NewsBoy — Julie Webb. “The lord’s army” Good layout. “You ‘gotta’ have heart’” Good layout. “Gross.”

4th. The Cameron Herald — Mike Peck. “Coaching runs through family like sap” Good headline. “The battle of the bell” Great story, lots of detail, good use of the photo.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1st. Westlake Picayune (Austin) — “Joan of art” Dane Anderson and “In a zone of his own” Catherine Hosman. Both these stories were well-written, finely crafted with detail and richness of language and vocabulary. They read as if written by writers/editors who had the goal of knowledgeable enthusiasm. Awfully gray even for a tab.

2nd. Blanco County News — Sheryl Smith-Rodgers. “Every day is Thanksgiving” Great lead into the tumor incident. Thanks for not jumping the story before the good news-bad news. But you didn’t lose many readers to the jump. You certainly wouldn’t lose me as a reader. “Who is that masked lady?” This woman just came to life for me in this story. I wish I were there for Halloween.

3rd. Mineola Monitor — “Faith, family and friends keep Mikey and Sheeran family going” Doris Newman. Interesting but very gray. Paragaphs too long. Paper would have placed higher if both stories were like “Boys and their Toys.” “Boys and their Toys” Gary A. Edwards. By far the stronger of the two features! Poor printing hurts this great package of detail-laden vignettes!

4th. Alpine Avalanche — “Border patrol handles expanding responsibilities” Gail Diane Yovanovich. Good lead-in quote but story overall all is very gray. Why no picture of Mr. Garza? “The publishers of Brewster County” Betse Brooks. This story brought this entry into fourth place in a closely contested division.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1st. Yorktown News-View — Mari Gohlke. “Local veterinarian Dr. W.E. McAda reflects on 50-year practice in Yorktown” Layout looks great. Story well-written and gives excellent history. Very enjoyable to read and kept interest all the way through. Great job! “Brother gives sister kidney” Very well-written touching story. Kept interest. You’re a good feature writer, based on these two entries.

2nd. Lake County Sun (Graford) — “Sweet sounds continue after 70 years” Chris Allen. This one did it. Layout was great. Good lead. Photo was perfect for story. And the story itself, very well written. Good job!!! “First State opens new facility” Michael Matthews. Good well-written story on the bank. Layout good. Tended to be a bit on the news instead of feature side.

3rd. Pilot Point Post-Signal — Richard Greene. “Unanswered questions” Great headline. Fits well with the story. Catches your attention also. Well-written. Great lead. “Academic warriors do battle” Good layout. Good pictures went great with story. Great quotes. Keeps interest and good subject to report on.

4th. Lexington Leader — Maggie Beasley. “Veteran’s Day 2002” Layout is great. Photos are great. Stories are normal V-day stories. “A humble request” Layout great. Photos great and story is well-written.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1st. The Ingleside Index — “Artist brings wood carving talents to North Bay area” Juliet Wenger. Both are outstanding examples of feature writing. Good subject material, very solidly presented. “Ingleside to Harvard” Bill DeFries. Marvelous human interest, very well presented.

2nd. Midlothian Today — Allen Taylor. “Patriot pens terror ballad” Good subject material, well-written. “Retired police chief reminisces on role in history” Excellent story. Why is it on page 8? Easy to read, very good/controversial subject material with good local tie. The writer made the best of a great opportunity.

3rd. Leonard Graphic — Bethany Russell. “The Navy’s Baby” Very well-written. Excellent subject material, especially in issue preceding Veteran’s Day. “Hiss under the hood turned out to be a different kind of engine trouble” Yikes! Well done.

4th. Hansford County Reporter-Statesman — Harletta Carthel. “Tipping their hats” Excellent tribute, well-written, easy to tag along. Very good subject material even though he seemed well-known to all. “Teacher ‘schooled’” Good subject material but story would have been much more impressive and impactful had the writer led with Saudi Arabia. Everybody knows what goes on in LA!

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1st. The International (Presidio) — Dan Keane. “Farm sees Presidio’s future in RV park, golf course” Normally the subject wouldn’t interest me too much, but your writing style and your lead held my attention and interest from start to finish. You have such a fluid, casual style that is neither pretentious, nor sentimental. “Telemedicine links Presidio clinic to medical experts at Lubbock hospital” Same as above.

2nd. Thorndale Champion — Tia Rae Stone. “Blessin’ burgers for 35 years at Schroeder’s” It made me want to visit the place, just so I can meet the Schroeders and experience the atmosphere. “A job with relish” A little heavy on the puns, but there wasn’t a bad one in the whole lot. A very entertaining read.

3rd. The Eagle Press (Fritch) — Debra Wells. “The orphans of Bryansk” Good story, but it seemed heavily influenced by your own bias. I can see, however, how you could easily get “caught up” in the experience. “Hendrickson received Purple Heart” Also good. Lots of good, vivid detail.

4th. The Overton Press — Charlotte Heldenbrand. “Family torn by death of 10-year-old boy” Very interesting account of a local tragedy. A lot of work must have gone into this story. “Paying tribute to the president” Great way of tying a local story to a national one.