2006 Better Newspaper Contest — Headline Writing


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 to 99,999

1. The Beaumont Enterprise - "Hello, hallelujah, amen and goodbye -- Ministers relay the word from church to church to church to church during Holy Week marathon" Funny! Very clever, original, irreverent; it works! A real standout! The fun continues in the deck head. "Silencing whistle-blowers takes serious hush money" Most unusual, quirky treatment; this headline writer brings a rare creativity and sense of humor to the art of word play. "Throws of agony" Great sports head - says it all in three words. Great photo overline and deck head too! Fantastic fresh!

2. The Galveston County Daily News - "Singers just taking it from the top - of a tree" Hilarious! Loved it "For bikers, it's hog couture" This is so funny! Priceless. Great play on words. "Bare necessities" Nice use of catch phrase, so appropriate for story.

3. The Eagle, Bryan - "Chatty-chatty bang bang" Excellent review head, really clever and really fits story! Super play on words. "Big Ben clocks out for maintenance" Funny! Brief heads deserve great treatment too; this one's a winner. "Ginger's a snap" Creative, to the point, gets my attention.

4. The Baytown Sun - "Gi whizzes" Awesome play on words! "His outs are in" Very, very clever. Fits the story like a glove! "Youngsters flock to poultry competitions" Cute but not as original as the other two.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1. Waxahachie Daily Light - "Hard times over -- Alleged Viagra bandit busted" It takes guts to go with this head." "On the hook" and "Heating the beat"

2. Terrell Tribune - "Burning couch incident puts Terrell man in the hot seat" Very funny. "Houston, we have a delay" and "Lions, Tigers and a Bear of a game, Oh My!"

3. Plainview Daily Herald - "French jokes matter of sour grapes" Nice play on words. "Promise lands Moses in providential appearance" This reads really nicely. "The 'kneed' to decide: Pay now or pain later"

4. Alice Echo-News Journal - "You've got more than mail; man allegedly shipping pot" "Your wallet  -- never leave a crime scene without it" Nice take on it. "Apple turn-over Hwy. 281" Same as above; very clever.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1. Williamson County Sun - "Golfers teed over Sun City price increase" Good working head that shows creativity with golf term. "Zucchini squashes the competition" Just plain funny! Perfect! "Thieves go on the run after theft of laxatives, antacid" Hilarious! Original. Makes me want to read this police blotter!

2. The Bastrop Advertiser - "State champs! BHS spelling tem, oops, team wins gold medal" Use of typo in the head was bold and clever - gets reader's attention. "Hair length snipped from dress code" Nice play on words, not forced, fits story. "Rollin' on the River" Nice imagery from song title - alludes to bustling activity, progress.

3. Boerne Star & Recorder - "Dry conditions may dampen New Year's celebrations" Nice twist adds interest to routine story. "Do leave home without it" Nice - kicker grabs your attention; deck head elaborates, adding twist to commercial slogan works here. "Let there be (less) light" Cute play on words here, and you don't have to read story to know what it's about.

4. Uvalde Leader-News - "Resident raises a stink over Uvalde's disposal of sludge" Funny! "Deputy arrests bite suspect" and "Evil weevils" These weevils are evil, and I like the rhyme - deck head backs it up.

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1. The Canyon News - "We've got your Spring BRRReak" Nice wordplay, kicker head works well too. "Bra-zen escape" Gets readers attention, deck head does good job of explaining this play on words. Playful treatment on somewhat funny crime story. "FREE(WAY) AT LAST!" Adds zing to otherwise ordinary picture package.

2. Mansfield News Mirror - "Industrial park making concrete plans" Good, solid headline that combines wordplay, facts. "Yo! It's all about the pizza at Nizza" Fun, playful treatment gets reader's attention. Nice rhyme. "Lights get some rhythm" Makes me want to read story to see why lights have rhythm.

3. The Gatesville Messenger - "Snakebite! What to do when it happens" To the point. Gets reader's attention. "Brrrrrr!" Attention-grabber, deck head nice. "Moody people Muddy water" Creative take on story that could have attracted less attention. Head makes you want to read it.

4. Breckenridge American - "Downtown inferno" Gets right to the point. I like drama of word 'inferno,' which is appropriate here. "Cat-scratched" Nice image, wordplay on sports head" Liver tea and Richard Stance?" Grabs reader's attention with unusual question head - funny!

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Hondo Anvil Herald - "599...599...599...599...599...599...600!" Love the creativity. Definitely captures your attention. "State Flowers" Nice play on words. "'Handhelds' + 2nd graders = learning" This was great - original, creative, told the story well.

2. Rockdale Reporter - "The postman always sings twice" Really liked this headline. " "'2 cheeseburgers, please, and hold the fig leaf' - Nude diners arrested for disorderly conduct, indecent exposure" Y'all have some crazy stories out there in Texas. "Andrew Jackson was there, but the White House was missing" This was a great headline, really made you stop to read the story. It was a tough choice between first and second, the difference was headline size - don't be afraid to go big This is Texas, ain't it?!

3. Bandera Bulletin - "The Forgotten War remembered in Bandera" Clever play on words. "County computer department gets rebooted" Clever play on words. "Oh my gourd!" Really cute.

4. Park Cities People, Dallas - "HP council set to hear Mockingbird foes' song" Nice touch. "HP puts Tigers in passed tense" OK. "All for one, Won for all" Great - this headline carried the paper. All the headlines, though, were nice, clean, concise and not too corny.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. Lake Travis View, Lakeway - "Confusion? Bank on it" Love it! Clear, concise, great play on words. "Ketchum if you can" Clever head using artist's name, works well with deck head. "Click here for cheap fills" Great fun with a short piece on Web gas prices!

2. The Community News, Aledo - "Ruffing it" Nice play on words, works great with photo and quick-read. "Smart Cookies" Smart idea! Short head meshes very well with the clear, clean deck head. Gets point across in one bite. "Great escape" Very nice treatment. Clever headline is well-complemented by deck and saves so-so art (photo).

3. Allen American - "Howling for children" Adds interest, draws reader in to story. "Her feet are her wheels" Unusual head makes you want to read story - deck head explains clearly what story is about. "The few, the proud, the pen pals" A great lead-in for the story. The deck head below elaborates nicely without being redundant.

4. The Cameron Herald - "Holy bat guano, Batman!" Funny headline, I really like this. Couldn't figure out reference to children in the deck head without seeing jump to story. "Deputies tag graffiti artists" Nice wordplay in small space. "Area, state: 'We do' to gay marriage ban" Great idea. I would have avoided using colon to introduce players. Also 'TTC' reference is unclear until you get to second leg of story.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. The Springtown Epigraph - "Fleet feet beat meet heat" Cute, the poet at work. "The TOTS of SWAT!" Clever play on sultan of Swat - a real headline. "All caulk, no action" Would-be-do-it-yourselfers fully understand and appreciate.

2. Lancaster Today - "Entrepreneur rolls the dice on black history" Great play on board game item. "Everman Moore than enough for Tigers" Very clever and right on target with the story. "Beer backers are left crying in their suds" Cute but no doubt how the story played out. Great job!

3. The Smithville Times - "Foiling squirrels and raccoons is for the birds" Nice use of the animals. Everyone got this one without reading the story. "A bit blue at Brown" Colorful head and so true for the school. "The talk of the town" Good play on words and still effective for the readers.

4. Frisco Enterprise - "Big bucks, builders back amendment busters" Say it three times really fast - and it is still an effective and fun headline. "Climbing rocks!" Great double entendre. "Council taps brakes on tolls" Nice word play tells descriptively what action was taken.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. The Canadian Record - "The Road to Ruin" The story wasn't attached, but I can imagine it goes on to enumerate all the things that get ruined by the road - cars, nerves, lives, etc. "Edifice complex" Creative and clever! "Texas Prairie Rivers hopes to dress the region in 'tall cotton' - the organic kind" Good headline that is 'cute' and also tells me what the story is about - makes me want to read it.

2. Lake Country Sun, Graford - "Staubach scores again - this time with BRA" This is really, really funny - almost like a blooper. "Spider not looking for trouble" This is clever in that it is a single way of saying what to expect in story. "Send Wright Amendment flying" Excellent headline, makes me want to read the story.

3. Leonard Graphic - "Coke is it: Bid has fizz, LISD says" Clever and attracts attention. "City Council addresses recent flooding, and ironically, the need for more water in the future" This is a little wordy but is a good guide to the story. "Water and sewer fund has constant drain, with drop in the bucket left" Excellent headline, says a lot, tells in a clever way what to expect in article.

4. McGregor Mirror - "The doctors are in - new community clinic opens" While this headline was the weakest of the three headlines, it was a good use of an old cliché - and tells the story. "Local students know for whom the bell tolls" Again, good use of an old cliché clever. "Dude, we're gettin' a Dell" Clever and catchy. I think this headline probably captured the feeling of the community.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. The Albany News - "Fire speeds up hospital demolition" Nice. Tells the story clearly and accurately. "Fed-up teens raise $7500 for world hunger" Clear with a nice touch. "Fire danger goes up along with the thermometer" Nice. Clear. Good juxtapositioned words without overreaching to be cute.

2. The Clarendon Enterprise - "Pain at the pumps" Nice, clear. Makes me want to read it, especially with photo. "Toddler drives van into school building" Clear as a bell. I'm going to read this story. "AWOL toenail illustrates moral lesson" Not sure what an AWOL toenail is.

3. South Tarrant Star, Everman - "Make-believe mayhem" It works because of the photo. But I did find myself searching for a photo caption, which could have tied it all together better with the head. "Wal-Mart wins 3-to-2" Clear, to the point, does not try to be clever where a straight telling of the news is needed. Good. "Speechless in Everman" Not sure what that head means. These are tough heads to write.

4. Keene Star - "Code 10-24: assignment complete" Nice idea. This head would have been helped with an explanatory underline. ... But my initial impression was that a firefighter had died. "Moving in, drying out" Intriguing head. Not as clear, perhaps, as it could be, but I do want to read the story. "It's in the mail" Too abstruse for me. I should not have to read a deck to figure out a head.