2003 Better Newspaper Contest — Headline 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

Headline Writing

Division 2 Dailies 7,000 or More

1st. New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung — “Come one, Comal All — River Outfitters happy for work on Labor Day” This plays well on words. Really works! “For Central Texas duffers, it’s the — Landa opportunity” Your headlines are consistently clever and creative, just like this one. “Parents give elementary school ‘F’ on road access” Another clever headline. Two on the same day!

2nd. The Facts (Clute) — “Anglers not ready to bite on plan — Fisheries scientists seek comment on proposal to bolster red snapper” Clever headline AND it tells the story! “Clute bank robber’s dress proves a success — Police seek man who committed holdup in drag” Interesting use of the dress for success saying. It works. “Libraries strike up the banned — Association encourages people to read most-challenged books” Pretty darn clever headline and, again, it tells the story.

3rd. Laredo Morning Times — “Lights out? — Electric company proposes pulling the plug on power plant” Both headlines are very effective. “U.S. flag test passes with flying colors” I give you points for cleverness. “Rats! — Classes cancelled at Bruni Elementary” Nice headline and you weren’t afraid to run it big.

4th. The Paris News — “Firefighters’ hopes for more pay extinguished” This is the best of the bunch among your entries. I like it! “Field of Dreams — Fannin County man named finalist in national bermudagrass competition” This is one of these that gets used a lot, but you make it work. “Attack changes scene for actress — Hardy draws on Sept. 11 emotions in her work” It tells the story.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1st. Stephenville Empire-Tribune — “This is only a TEST — SHS mock accident shows reality of drinking and driving” The subhead really makes this work. Excellent. “With interior renovations nearing completion, soon there will be new… Order in the court” Very clean and appropriate. “Pizza Place deep-dished — Familiar structure makes way for use by Tarleton” Very original and clever.

2nd. Pecos Enterprise — “Mural back home 35 years after bank’s withdrawal” Very nice head. Has a good rhythm. “KPEJ’s ‘cavity’ leaves hole in Cowboy fans’ schedule” Clever. “Repenting for repainting — Baptist churches want sign’s missing two commandments restored” Not at accurate as other two but clever and compelling.

3rd. Taylor Daily Press — “Prairie home companions — Prairie dogs join Taylor family” Very clever. “Sonic targets BOOM” Creative but differences in case (type face) is more distracting than creative. “Lemon aid — TxDOT releases vehicle report” Not especially original but appropriate and accurate.

4th. Alice Echo News Journal — “Drippin’ springs Alice — Turnovers and missed shots lead to 49-28 loss in regionals” A little “too cute” but does have impact. “From bugs to butterflies, camp is hands-on — About 50 Alice kids participating in AISD camp” Love this head. Informative and has a lovely cadence. “ Flood waters still run deep — JWC commissioners asked to have illegal dam removed” Not too original, but still clever and accurate.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1st. El Campo Leader-News — “Cadavers costing county arm & leg” Sorry. I spit coffee on your entry when I read it. God, did I love that headline. “Area fields looking cornier than normal” Corny but good! “Type lice put bite on county plans” Most folks probably don’t know what “type lice” are in your community but you explained it well and early in the story.

2nd. Bowie County Citizens Tribune — “Sludge dump has neighbors raising stink” Says it straight out with style. “Area kids join their humans at first-ever goat clinic” Good play on words. You’re thinking all the time! “An army of … Juan?” This is a hoot! Very clever and contemporary. Your strongest entry by far!

3rd. Hood County News — “Master chef Grady Spears’ recipes a culinary paradise Garden of ‘eatin’” Good presentation. “Ducks may be causing pollution problem — City crying ‘fowl’” Nice word play, but lacks a sharper impact I’d like to see. “Sewer plan full of leaks” Again you get credit for word play, but I needed something more here.

4th. Williamson County Sun — “Jarrell superintendent plans to live long in Prosper” I liked it, but I have to wonder how many trekkies you have in town who got it? “Dome dame will resume perch” Good. Needed a better photo to help illustrate story and head. We have one of these, too. “Amazing Blake — He once was lost but now he’s found” Incredible story. I’d have used a Baby Moses connection since he was abandoned as an infant too.

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1st. Mansfield News Mirror — “Gym dandy — 10-year-old gymnast beaming after earning chance to work with a dozen Olympic coaches” Good blend of integrating headline, deck and photo with this package. Other headlines on this page good too. “Fire&Ball — Their names may be the same, but their careers are not” Great way to localize and entice readers. “By the Books — Residents get comfortable in spacious 1-year-old library” Good headline. Good deck. This paper does a great job with headlines and layout. Only flaw was July 1 headline that ended with preposition.

2nd. Quanah Tribune Chief — “Spraying to take a bite out of skeeters” Clever. Don’t end line on headline with a. But skeeters should be ’skeeters, but every reader surely knows what those are! “Sheriff warns drivers to start seeing red” Accurate. Good way, one hopes, to get people to stop! “Volunteers help cancer patients get on the road to recovery” Touching especially with the photo of the volunteers and the car. The cutline lead-in also is clever. Headlines are pretty good on all these front pages. I wanted to read all the stories.

3rd. Lampasas Dispatch Record — “Will the real Lyndel Lucas please stand up? — Theft of Lampasas man’s identity leaves him vulnerable to arrest” Could have used something perhaps in pull quote about former employee causing this nightmare. “Touched by an angel — Precinct 1 road crew member escapes death after tractor rolls down embankment and over him” Deck, “after,” preposition ending but a gripping story with picture to enhance. “The secret life of Timothy O’Keefe — Former Lampasan served dual role during his extensive career with the U.S. Navy” Good headline to invite readers for a story about recently deceased person with local ties.

4th. Perryton Herald — “Look out Austin – They’re baaaack! — Tigerettes return to state” I’m sure you got good local response from this headline. “Clark enjoys ‘delicious’ win in county junior spelling bee” This headline made the difference in this placement. This is the best and most original of the three entered in this category. “Republican tide rolls over nation, state and county” “Republican tide” says it all.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1st. Houston Business Journal — “The minus $600 million man — CEO Chuck Watson’s fortune continues to shrink along with Dynegy stock price” Humorous and pertinent. Attracts attention. “Airport food fight: The sequel — Rival groups scrap for Hobby contract in repeat of 1998 battle” Very clever. “Fruitless abatement dies on political vine” Confusing at first but very smart.

2nd. Tyler County Booster — “Area birding website is hatched — 3 counties team up to develop nature tourism marketing plan” Clever. “This Land is Urland — Three Rivers council unveils ambitious plan for camp expansion” A little cheesy but cute and appropriate. “All Bets Are Off — Alabama Coushatta tribe vows to fight on to reopen its casino” Good and accurate.

3rd. Pleasanton Express — “Reel time fun — Summer fun set for kids June 2” Okay at getting point across. “Growers say ‘Nuts’ to Farm Bill” A little cliché but it’s appropriate. “Stink over stink, over!’” It took a moment to make sense, but it’s very clever.

4th. The Cameron Herald — “It was Pittman’s Knight — Yoeman battle back for bi-district win over Gatesville in overtime” Not very original, but it works for the topic. “Woman spews at council after sewage floods home” Very bold wording, especially considering topic. “Turkey truck runs afowl — Feathers fly as big rig, rescue wrecker overturn” Maybe too silly, but it works.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1st. The Big Bend Sentinel — “Skaters try ollies, nollies and fakies at Marfa X-Games” Excellent. Intriguing to readers. “Hung jury in Clay Henry III castration case” No one could resist! “Letters, postcards, periodicals — Neither rain, sleet, snow will keep post office from rate hike” Good way to cover routine story.

2nd. Medina Valley Times (Lytle) — “Murder suspect says he only drove the van” Accurately sums up story. “Lytle dress code at times ‘stinks’” More use of a ‘kid word.’ “The maestro of Medina County can even play Metallica” Clever, covers all aspects of story well. Draws in readers.

3rd. The Madisonville Meteor — “Fairfield in Friday for football finale” Weakest of the three. “Curiosity helps to Brighton local shop” Nicely done. One of the best I saw. “Madisonville gymnast vaults to West Virginia” Good.

4th. Ellis County Press — “Ex-worker: Red Oak City Hall fire could have been rigged” OK. “Showdown shifts control of city hall — Out with the new, in with the old” OK. “The bridges of Ellis County — A story of one bridge on a road to nowhere” Should have been ‘bridge’ of Ellis County but it works.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1st. Canyon Lake Times Guardian — “Turtle tragedy triggers trait transformation” Alliterative impact with this life-altering account. “‘Churning’ back the clock” Good choice of words. “Churning” back the clock. “Retired policeman holds key to the past” Good headline for this story but why wasn’t it displayed as a page 1 feature.

2nd. The Free Press (Diboll) — “Good things come to those who weight” Great headline for this picture package! “Nature’s River Rendezvous — Scores take advantage of annual canoe trip for spectacular views of the Neches River” A nice picture page with headline to match. Wished the headline could have been bigger.” “It’s a bird-eat-bird world” Great picture and cutline from a photographer who definitely was paying attention. Picture could have been played more prominently.

3rd. Cedar Hill Today — “Forum fit for a Kingswood — School board candidates discuss election with homeowners group” Good use of words and incorporating “fit or a king” idea. “Laundering their money? Check found in NU creekbed” Clever use of laundering and segue to creekbed. “Neighbors ‘Target’ change in center — Bentle Branch, city work for compromise” Good use of ‘Target’ in this story.

4th. Clay County Leader — “Report confirms healthy year for hospital district” ‘Confirms’ may be a little strong. The story doesn’t paint such a rosy picture. “Rain 1, baseball 0” Says it all, especially with runoff picture. “State champs — Petrolia bedevils Celeste for 1A football title” Impact. Good use of ‘bedevil’ even though score was 39-18.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1st. Midlothian Today —“Train derails, spills the soybeans” No doubt why this road was closed for three days! “Now, that’s no strawman: The scarecrows are out” Good alert to community-wide effort. “Rave: Drug club or dance party? Police make 109 arrests / County loses permit lawsuit” Very good either/or head for this ‘event.’

2nd. The Winters Enterprise — “Wheat’s 50-year career fueled by perseverance” Appropriate choice of verb for this man’s career. “Hair’s lookin’ at ya!” Clever use of ‘hair’ I read this whole thing and, fortunately, I’ve never known anyone with 4-inch ear hair, unless it was hidden under a cap. “‘Have a seat, Opal’” Delightful choice of words for this story head.

3rd. Palacios Beacon — “Todd takes it off the top for TAAS” Cutline, head clever. Would have helped if the cutline explained the acronym for the tests. “Desiree cuts the mustard as ‘Hotdogger’” Best headline of the three. “Taking a leap of faith” Who can’t relate to this?

4th. Flour Bluff Sun — “Kitchens’ utensils: Jobs, community pride top EDC list” Great use of EDC leaders name to get point across. “Under where? Girl Scouts part of brief clothes drive here” In strictest sense, the word “brief” should be “briefs.” One hopes the drive will be brief to get briefs! “Mission Impossible: Hornets finally out-weaponed in regional quarterfinal play” Good description of a strategic season-ending game plan.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1st. Abernathy Weekly Review — “World champion considers ‘heading’ a hoot” Active voice verb clever use of name allusion in headline. Just a great rodeo headline. “Roofing project falls on the floor” Just what happened. “City hall has left the building — Staff plans move to former NGSPA office at 411 S. Ave. D” Super. These headlines are better than ones on much larger papers. I loved these entered headlines! They made me smile and want to read. Scott Luce, you’re lucky to have a headline writer to pique interest in your stories. Do you write the headlines?

2nd. The International (Presidio) — “Students take their river savvy on a field trip” Well-written summary. “Loose dogs, burglaries and traffic tickets: new police department is up and running” Effectively tells the essence of what this new force is doing. “Adios 915: Texas’ last great area code to be split in 2003” Great two-word introduction to this headline.

3rd. The Brackett News — “Water district irons out wrinkles” Good pull quote to support the ‘irons out’ terminology in the headline. “Chasing a dream — Local singer loves to entertain” Too-close-in size head and subhead but otherwise a nice package. “Cowboys lasso Tigers in overtime — Brackett closes non-district slate with road game against Sonora” Good active voice.

4th. The Eldorado Success — “It’s simple math: The + IRS + Theirs” Clever! Who wouldn’t read this on April 4! “Commissioners can’t even agree to disagree about Ag Building rules” Faulted, should not end top line with “to.” “So, what exactly is a Nazi meth lab?” This made me want to read the story. I did and the headline explained it well.