2004 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. San Angelo Standard-Times, Jeff Wick - "Kings of their day" Excellent profile of a community's unfaltering pride of a title they won more than a half-century ago. Gets to the heart of sports fans and the pride of winning. "Living without football" Wick's writing is insightful and poetic. A sweet look at how lives and one small community handle the loss of an American sport.

2nd. Midland Reporter-Telegram, Shanna Sissom - "Confessions of a convicted killer" A brave story written with depth and careful reporting. Not many papers would allow a profile of a death row inmate - a brave decision indeed. "Victims' families reflect on loss" Glad to see the balance of the victim's story. Also well-written and compassionate.

3rd. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal - "Latino Factor" by Beth Pratt. Important article with lots of pertinent information and personal stories. "Never say die" by Ray Glass. Wonderful story. The writing is compassionate and thorough and original. A gem of a subject in a world of mostly uninspiring stories.

4th. Port Arthur News, Sherry Koonce - "Special report: Dad's with custody." Nice to see a story about dads who so often get ignored in a mom-favored business. "Finding help" Touching story, thoughtful writing.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1st. Seguin Gazette-Enterprise,  Bryan Kirk - "Miracle in Marion" Only a careful observer would spot this subtle shift in the community. A revealing profile of a church, its message and its congregation. "Jessica's story" A compelling story made so by detailed storytelling.

2nd. Stephenville Empire-Tribune - "Medical mission" by Amelia Wigton. A wonderful story that takes readers to a foreign place with understanding and humanity. "Beating the odds" by Anna Boudreau. Everyone loves a story of triumph over hardship. This one hits the mark.

3rd. Athens Daily Review - "What a team" by Elise Mullinix. Good decision to let horse be the focus. A fun story. "Portrait of a murder" by Art Lawler. Very dramatic story ... true crime told by a witness, not an investigator. The scene-setting lede not the best way to get into the story. Get me right to the action.

4th. Henderson Daily News, Danny Gallagher - "Ghost in the opera house" Just the right touch of serious and silly. " 'Idol' thoughts" Subject of this story weak.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1st. Williamson County Sun - "Lunch 2003-04" by Rebecca Robbins. Great job with capturing the feeling of the day. Good descriptions, color. Great photos. "A table set to welcome thousands" by Amy Burroughs. Nice details

2nd. The Allen American, Jason Heid - "Selling faith" Great story idea, good lead, use of sources. "An Allen world view" Takes too long to get to the nut graph. Good use of quotes.

3rd. Polk County Enterprise, Vanesa Brashier - "The turquoise turtle" Lead is questionable, but story flows nicely. Ample details, interesting. "Award-winning play" No comment.

4th. The Boerne Star, Matt Bartosh - "Living history" No comment. "Tex rides again" Creative lead, a cute story.

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1st. Mansfield News-Mirror - "Same as it ever was" by Mark Wright. Pretty awesome story - I loved the way the writer described the station's role in a community that has changed drastically. Exceptionally well-written with great art! "Lifelong lessons" by Brigitte Cummings. Compelling subject matter with a lead to match. Makes the reader want to continue. Very well-written with good photos from a variety of angles.

2nd. The Canyon News, Greg Jaklewicz - "I'll be home for Christmas" The story does an excellent job of conveying how national/international events hit home. Well-written though maybe a little long, with lots of interesting details about military life. Good job! "Vacation price was just right" Fun, feature-worthy subject and a nice contrast to the other more serious entry. Writer did a good job of showing how thrilled Johnson was. Clever conclusion too.

3rd. The Gatesville Messenger, Larry Kennedy - "Special needs" Well-written story on a wonderful lady. Quotes were well-chosen. Story would've benefited from more art. "JISD says 'Thanks Larry!'" Another good story on an interesting person. Quotes give a good idea about Pruitt's sense of humor, something that can be hard to do. It might have been nice to have another photo, perhaps from his coaching days.

4th. Lamesa Press-Reporter, Russel Skiles - "Witness to a century of change..." A really nice story that captures nearly a century of life in the area. An enjoyable read. Might have been stronger with more photos, perhaps some of her in her younger days. Great lead, too! "Just being neighborly" Really good story for the holidays. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Very well-written, but again, better photos would've been nice for this excellent story. More people in the photos.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1st. Azle News, Jeri Field - "Music never died!" Writer knows how to put reader into the story - the scenes - showing us instead of telling us. "Claim to fame" Writer had fun with this and it shows.

2nd. The Wylie News, Patty Montagno - "Reporter details cosmetic surgery experience" Any woman who undergoes a facelift and has the honesty to write about it ... well, I salute her! Well-documented. "Real action hero" Good job weaving together the actual account with the author's interpretations.

3rd. Duncanville Today - "A greater vision" by Angel Jenkins Morris. A sympathetic treatment of a strong young woman. "He shoots, He scores" by Mark Robinson. This has a nice lead and the writing has nerve.

4th. Cedar Creek Pilot, Gun Barrel City - "Mabank boy lives a nightmare" by Art Lawler. This must be a fine series - what a sad life this kid has led. "A day in the life" by John H. Cox. Paints a pretty picture good picture here.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1st. Westlake Picayune, Austin - "Star Rising" by Catherine Hosman. Imagery is lovely. "In the shadow of the blade" by Dane Anderson. Some editing errors, good storytelling, good descriptive language.

2nd. The Countywide, Karnes City, Jason Clay Jansky - "Goat glory" Good story, complete lede. Nice use of quotes. Stuck to the theme. "Experienced Karnes City volunteer firefighter learned from early 'comedy of errors'" Also a good lede.

3rd. Tyler County Booster, Mike Warren - "Local group plans to create nature center" Good story, nice mix of quotes and background. "Woodville High grad excels in TV news, PR career" No comments.

4th. The Big Bend Sentinel, Marfa, Sterry Butcher - "A blessing three times over" There had to be a better way to start this story. "Lobo's German owners host three-day party" Great writing. Seems like a story good for the community. The secondary photo also is better than the lead photo.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1st. The Junction Eagle, Trey McLendon - "Kimble woman's environmental saga provides a warning to local landowners" This is an important story that should have been well received. "Care center takes novel approach" An important story well told.

2nd. Ellis County Press, Joey Dauben - "JFK: 40 years later" Good job of reporting and assembling a long complicated story. "Don't drive and talk" Nicely written - peppy.

3rd. Pearland Reporter-News - "A haunting we will go" by Billy Liggett. A different kind of story, has reader interest. "Golf club squirrel has swing down pat" by Kelly Smith. Funny stuff! I enjoyed this.

4th. West Austin News, Tudey Teten - "The Lost Boys" Break up those monstrously long graphs and this would read much better. "Death, where is thy sting?" A nice recounting. Good reporting.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1st. Palacios Beacon - "Elderly woman may lose water service" by Bert C. West. Touching story, well-written. "Rocky finds his 'family' after 46 years" by Nick West. Tugs at the heart strings.

2nd. Midlothian Today - "Wednesday's child has fun day eating ice cream in Midlothian" by Aaron Baker. Needs photo on page 3 continued. Great article, concept and presentation. "Kobe's gifts brighten days for Down Syndrome children" by Allen Taylor. Wonderful story.

3rd. The Clarendon Enterprise - "Just keep getting back up!" by Carrie Helms. Great concept. Nice presentation. "A scout for all seasons" by Roger Estlack. Great human interest story.

4th. Friendswood Reporter-News - "The gift of life" by Billy Liggett. Touching article. I wanted to read it. "Local scientist searches for meteorites in Antarctica" by Kim Strube. Local interest, nice quality.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1st. The Ingleside Index, Janice Arnsdorff - "Mystery of missing WWII flyboys solved" and "And now it's just a waiting game..." Engaging stories. I want to know how this came out!

2nd. The International Presidio, Dan Keane - "Lost names, a forgotten history but cemetery's stones remain" Touching. "Governors gather to ponder border issues" Nice story. We like (New Mexico Gov.) Bill (Richardson) too!

3rd. Burnet County Citizens Gazette, Rick Espitia - "Historical bird lands in Burnet" Really nice story! "Big man on campus" A little short. Subject a little weak.

4th. Joshua Star, Gail Jackson - "Local resident makes room for martial arts" and "Adventure-seeking Marine home from war" Both engaging stories.