2007 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 Large Dailies

1. Lufkin Daily News, Gary Stallard - "Mourning the world's greatest athlete" Clever lede. It pulls the reader in and the story is sad without being sappy or overreaching. The reader gets a real sense of the girl. "Life viewed through a chain link fence" Vivid imagery and a wonderful read from start to finish. Your writing is clean and crisp, but rich in detail.

2. The Monitor, McAllen, David Gragg - "And the Omar goes to..." Witty. The writer is concise and cutting. This is what a good political column should be. "Do you really wanna know?" Humorous and engaging. Although I can't help feel a little bad for your wife.

3. The Facts, Clute, Yvonne Mintz - "Magnitude of Dawson's impact felt by eulogists" A touching tribute. The columnist could have just quoted the big gong, but Terrones said so much more. "Possible mistake no reason to condemn good principal" A balanced, reasonable look at an explosive issue. To the point and well-written.

4. Amarillo Globe-News, Jon Mark Beilue - "Seeing the light in a dark world" Wonderful quotes and images throughout. An enjoyable read. "A drive to be the best" Nice lede and good tone throughout. I love Coy's quotes.

Division 3 Small Dailies

1. Henderson Daily News, Alexa Duke - "Time to end 'victimhood' free rides" I doubt many readers objected to the opinions expressed here. Well said! "Thank you for your heart, Henderson" You've got to love small communities that turn out to help one of their own in need. Good telling of the story.

2. The Terrell Tribune, Justin Jones - "Dreams do come true on this field" Good story about special people. Easy to read and follow and very touching. Nice work! "To 'sag' or not to 'sag'" This is a touchy subject handled well ... without emotion. Good job!

3. Alice Echo News Journal, Nicole D. Perez - "Bed bugs really do bite" Ewww! Bed bugs? How could a reader not finish this column. Good treatment of the subject. Easy read. Good job! "Just another face in the crowd" Good column without being preachy. Tough subject handled well.

4. River Cities Daily Tribune, Marble Falls, Chris Porter - "Five years later, memories remain" I'm sure most readers could relate to this saga and remembrance. I could. Great job! "Kissing the ground crossed my mind" This is a good story and you relate it well. I'm not sure of the relevance today, but it's a good read.

Division 4 Large Semiweeklies

1. Round Rock Leader, Brad Stutzman - "Fathers, sons and cases of mistaken identity" A story that's hauntingly familiar but poignant all the same. "Immigration, diversity are nothing new in America" A good, or should I say, diverse, array of cultural references round out the column nicely. Very well-written from start to finish - a lovely end.

2. Williamson County Sun, Linda Scarbrough - "Elegy to a bewitching house" Your ties to the community make what could've been a routine story come alive. You put a face on loss and show that houses do so much more than provide shelter and solace to their owner. "Good ol' boys not so bad, actually" Again the columnist's institutional knowledge is on fine display. Nice crisp writing.

3. Wharton Journal-Spectator, Ronald K. Sanders - "When no nudes is good news" Amusing and for readers, a good peek inside the silliness of our jobs and what comes across our desks. I'm ignoring your advice though. "The final trip: Limo driving entrepreneur promised adventures, privacy, but left a mystery" Don't leave me hanging, how'd he die? I enjoyed the pacing of this article. Short sentences and scene made for a quick read. They mystery made it even more engaging.

4. Beeville Bee-Picayune, Adrian Jackson - "The other N-word" No she didn't! What an engaging column. Good conversational tone. The writer never got preachy or overly PC, which is nice. "On death, dying and dignity" Again, nice conversational tone throughout. I love the ending and if your writing is any indication you will leave a wonderful legacy.

Division 5 Small Semiweeklies

1. Lamesa Press Reporter, Russel Skiles - "Some assembly...is a nightmare" I've had the same problem. You told the story nicely. I quiver at "assembly required," ruined a lot of Christmases. "Sound reminds of daily dangers" A sobering thought-provoking reminder of dangers of firefighting.

2. Lamesa Press Reporter, Regina Crutcher - "A true tale of a family Thanksgiving dinner" Nice Thanksgiving tale and you told it well. "Being 'one of the guys' isn't always so fun" I liked the style and tone of this one. Go girl.

3. Perryton Herald, Jim Hudson - "Fire 'funnies'" You brought home a nice point about TV remotes and that news organizations can be geographically challenged. "Success?" Nice tie with the past for a workable theory on success.

4. The Canyon News, Debbie Aylesworth - "Kids innocence lightens Christmas" Loved your story on communion and the meanings of Christmas and true-life tale. "Life is a highway, I'm going to drive it" Liked the folksy style. A good read. If the sayings at the end weren't original, you needed to cite the source.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Azle News, Bob Buckel - "Tale of the toilet is more complicated than you'd think" Absolutely hilarious. "Achtung! Parlez-vous le World Cup? Bellissima, mate!" Not as funny as first one, but still a good humor piece.

2. Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post, Cathy Collier - "On the road with a sportswriter" Been there, done that. You captured the essence of a sports writer perfectly!! "In focus" Good concept. It was an extremely tough choice between first and second. If I were in charge, there would have been a tie.

3. Rockdale Reporter, Kathy Cooke - "Hmm. Use me or my daughter to get car help?" Some nice funny bits here. Took a little too long to get to them. "Take it to the bank" No comments.

4. Azle News, Edwin Newton - "Andropause: At last, a boatload of excuses for mid-life men" Funny, but a little rambling. Could have been at the top had it been tighter. "Rainey: A perfect lady who ran to heaven" Nice tribute.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. Frio Nueces Current, Marc Robertson - "You always stub your toe at one in the morning" and "Dead pigeons fell from the sky." Nice deadpan writing style. Makes humor that much funnier.

2. The Community News, Aledo, Randy Keck - "Tribute to a friend" and "No excuses" Dog story was possibly the single best column I read, but magician story was boring and took entry from first to second.

3. Big Bend Sentinel, Lonn Taylor - "La Junta abounds with cool archaeological sites" and "Hemmingway had Paris, this native Texan had Cowtown" Bar column had my attention, but other one was more a feature story.

4. West Austin News, Forrest Preece - "Westside stories: Aura Kruger & Sharon Watkins" These were both good, but they were probably closer to features stories than to column style.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. Pilot Point Post-Signal, Richard Greene - "High school athletics are a privilege" This is a very well-written piece that provides readers with all they need to know. "PPISD feeling the pain" This, too, is well-written and complete.

2. The Canadian Record, Laurie Ezzell Brown - "There was a moment" This is a well-reasoned piece that is well-written and thoughtful. "Fire line" This is a heartfelt piece of writing that hangs together well.

3. Cooper Review, Roger Palmer - "Smoking" This is a slice of humanity wrapped in excellent prose. "Moving" This is clever and holds the reader's attention.

4. Lindale News & Times, Rusty Mitchum - "One tough ol' buzzard" This is a well-written piece that keeps the reader's attention. "Heard this one?" This is clever and moves along well.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. Joshua Star, Daun Eierdam - "From the editor's desk: The squeaky wheel gets the grease" This is a well-written piece that is fun to read and has a topic of interest for readers. "I just don't get it" This is a well-written, informative piece that makes an important point or two.

2. Eldorado Success, Randy Mankin - "Vast distances, breathtaking beauty" This is a well-written, gentle piece that paints a wonderfully clear picture. "Some people see past the fear" This is a thoughtful piece that localizes a well-known tragedy. Irwin, however, might be misspelled as Erwin.

3. Hico News-Review, Anna Boudreau Belew - "I feel a little bit like Katie Couric..." This is a fun piece that some readers will find engaging. "Hey papa" This is a well-written piece that contains just the right amount of humanity.

4. The Clarendon Enterprise, Carrie Helms - "Almighty delivers message about kids" This is a well-written piece that maybe overstays its welcome just a tad. "Let's pretend you don't really know me" This piece stretches the limits of tolerance, but it is well-written.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. Anna-Melissa Tribune, Rodney Hays - "Learning to live in a woman's world" Good lead and closer. You have a good writing style. "Learning from bad situations" Very touching.

2. Murphy Monitor, Russ Riddle - "Tom's gone 'Far and Away'" Great lead! I laughed several times throughout the column. "Strong to the finish, 'cause I eat my spinach" Your style is great and very funny!

3. Deport Times, Cindy Baker - "I suffer from vanity insanity" So funny and very relatable. "Mama had 'knee jerk' visitor" There were a few typos. Very funny, overall.

4. Burnet County Citizens Gazette, Rick Espitia - "When that bolt passes Neptune, try to grab it will ya" Very funny, especially the paragraph about being tethered to the space ship. Great closing line, too. "One of these days I'm actually going to get that" Both columns are good because they take incidents that are easily relatable and you use them to make a broader point.