2007 Better Newspaper Contest — Editorials


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


Division 2 Large Dailies

1. The Galveston County Daily News - "An association not above board" by Heber Taylor and "With benefits such as these..." by Michael A. Smith. Excellent treatment of a seemingly complicated topic. Easy to read. Nice lead. Also, laid out the conflict in precise straightforward language.

2. Lufkin Daily News - "TTC-69: The reality is this highway is a long way from being built" Nice lead, brings the reader up to speed on the issue in the first sentence. Research into history of issues presented adds depth. "Sheriff's pay: Henson should be satisfied with 5% pay hike other elected officials will get under proposed budget" Good treatment of a common issue - disparity in sheriff/police salaries. Excellent lead. Sets up issue immediately.

3. Fort Bend Herald - "Can we trust commissioners members' statements in the future?" Colorful, precise language. Love "word scuffle," "we don't make this stuff up," "lifting... to new payroll heights." Nice lead, presentation of issue. "District 22 Republicans" Excellent. "A fine mess..." "the song was scripted...won't get to dance." This entry was so close to the one in second place it was difficult to decide.

4. The Beaumont Enterprise - "City clerk Jones needs to focus on official duties" Nicely written. Good lead. Appreciated writer pointing out dangers of "consent agenda." Nice symmetry in last graph. "School should let kids have cellular phones" Nice treatment on what's becoming a common issue nationwide. Writer's no-nonsense, straightforward opinion appreciated in a sea of editorials that can't seem to express the writer's stances on the issue presented.

Division 3 Small Dailies

1. The Terrell Tribune - "Ann Richards was a true trailblazer for Texas" Great tribute to Richards. Nice colorful language! "Shattered" "brightest light" "catapulted" "tough" "brutal" "gritty" "blazed" "life of the party" "zest for living." Enjoyed every word. "TISD needs to explain bond proposal for voters" Again, language here is key, bringing life to an otherwise boring bond proposal issue; "rumblings" "trip to the ballot box" "their own checkbooks"... applaud author's firm stance on issue.

2. McKinney Courier Gazette - "Cheers! Flap needs to be aired in full" Great treatment of a very local issue. Kudos to writer for bringing in freedom of information issue and explaining to reader implications. "The Big Gap: Ball is in commissioners court" Great lead. What a gap! Strong editorial with specific facts/figures. Writer set out exact conduct of commissioners in the race to vote themselves a raise. Bringing in early morning meeting issue and suggesting solution was good and tied right back into salary issue by the writer.

3. Waxahachie Daily Light - "Going negative" Good treatment of mud-slinging issue. Very timely. Language and word choice is applauded - "sad and disappointed." Curious to know if Daily Light's candidate won? "Time to act" Good lead. Author set up issue and set down alternatives. Very clear and straightforward. Great close: "...running out of room, we're running out of patience."

4. Brownwood Bulletin - "New Braunfels ordinance sets the example" Really enjoyed this editorial. Sets out the issue in specific language with concrete examples ("a litter of sick pooches for $300 each") and suggests solution. "The future of South Elementary property" Good lead. Complicated issue with no clear solutions evident, is well-written, easy to understand.

Division 4 Large Semiweeklies

1. Round Rock Leader - "Immigration affects everyone" Behold the voice of reason! A very well-balanced piece that neither dismisses nor demonizes anyone on any side of the issue. Nicely done and well written! "Time to drop the charges" Again a strong argument presented in gentle language, founded on intelligent reasoning. The editorialist shows a clear grasp of the significance of the issue and offers readers a glimpse at its core.

2. Uvalde Leader-News - "Discourse heals wounds" Nice job! Quickly and clearly frames the issue and makes strong case for more open operation by the council. Very persuasive. "Uvalde needs new jail" Another well-argued editorial, though it takes longer to make its case - the paragraph starting "it is our position..." almost seems like the lead, really. But it makes good sense and reads well.

3. Beeville Bee-Picayune - "Anatomy of a train wreck: Should county bail out Christus Spohn?" Concise and readable. A rare editorial that accomplishes more by simply raising the salient questions than by offering a solution. "Enough jackassery, support The Pantry stores" If tightened up some, this editorial would've been really strong. It makes a good point, but takes too long to get there. (And I'm jealous - my publisher would never let me get away with "jackassery" - great word!)

4. Williamson County Sun - "Bridging the town, gown divide" A thoughtful observation of the city's relationship with the university. "New tactics by the anti-smokers" There are far more persuasive arguments against smoking bans - freedom of choice, business owners' rights - than those posed by the writer, who has the body of medical evidence weighing against his claims. Still, well-written.

Division 5 Small Semiweeklies

1. The Canyon News - "This is our creek?" Good style and complementary photo. "We mourn together today" Good focus on community. Reminds the judge of his hometown.

2. Breckenridge American - "Welfare works for some but certainly not all" Solid job of tackling tough issue. "Maybe they could help clean up Breckenridge" Good community focus.

3. Lampasas Dispatch Record - "Persistent prayer is the key" Interesting topic. "It's time for creation of a Kempner school district" by Jim Lowe. Author's photo gives the impression this is a column.

4. The Sealy News - "SISD needs you to help educate our children" Good community commentary. "Sealy is at a crossroad" Nice effort.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Mansfield News Mirror - "Vote yes to take care of Mansfield's greatest asset" Very well-written call to action! It is based in reason, and uses just enough emotion to hook the reader. Extremely persuasive - I especially like how it brings up one of the criticisms of the bond, then explains it away. "Pay tribute to Mansfield's past and future" Excellent job, especially with the brilliant compromise suggested at the end. A gut-level appeal to the community's history that also has clear thinking behind it. Extremely readable.

2. Park Cities People - "Rush to judgment: Next time let's calm down before we accuse a good teacher of doing wrong" To use an editorial to refute critics of such an unpopular action is tricky, but the writer pulls it off very well, without condescending. Plus, it makes a strong point. Well-written and readable. "Failure to supervise: Our position on drinking - the right one - meets a tough test" It's rare for a paper (in my experience) to open the curtains and let readers see why they did something. This both does that and makes a strong argument about the rightness of the law and the paper's actions. Nicely done.

3. Coppell Citizens Advocate - By Jean Murph. "Allowing horses to stir us up over senior center" Powerful arguments that I find very persuasive. I like the no-nonsense approach. However, the language doesn't draw me in as a reader - it's kind of dry. I think that may blunt what is otherwise a really strong editorial. "Gas drilling at D/FW presents regional environmental issue" Again, the points made are strong, but the copy is not really compelling. It's clear the editorialist is a champion for good govt. and the readership. I just find the editorials to lack passion (even though they are rife with reason.)

4. Jewish Herald Voice - "The perfect crime" A smart and sharply-worded analysis. I'd have liked to see more opinion on how the community of nations might address the Iran/Hezbollah issue. "Stirring times in academia" While the "blame Israel" arguments of the professors may have been recycled, so were the refutations offered by the editorialist. A refresher approach or new directions would've made this a stronger piece.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. Lake Travis View - "LTISD should rethink how it makes information public" by Jay Plotkin. It's slow to start, but once it gets going this editorial provides a clear view of the issue and suggests reasonable solutions. Makes it clear that school district can fix this "problem" itself, without painting LTISD a villain. "If you think open records requests are expensive, consider Robin Hood" by Charles McClure. More column than editorial, but takes on the school funding issue clearly and with great enthusiasm. Wanders around a little but it's easy and (breathe!) fun to read.

2. Big Bend Sentinel - By Robert Halpern. "National Guard's armed presence on campus reviewed" This is a little disjointed. It doesn't read really well, though it's about an interesting topic. There's really no point to it at the end, and an editorial should really have a point or make an argument. "Hair today, gone tomorrow" I was surprised how this editorial gripped me, given the rather staid lede. It's insightful and gently persuasive. It makes a strong point but does so with finesse and humor! Good job!

3. Westlake Picayune - By Ed Allen. "Preserve FOIA fundamentals" and "Treat candidates as good neighbors" Both editorials aren't bad, but they could have a more specific focus. The general arguments made (FOI good; treat people well) are presented nicely.

4. The Cameron Herald - "It's time to fix how we pay for schools" I read several school funding editorials and this was by far the best. It had the clearest grasp on the real problem (funding vs. all the other issues) and strongly advocated a solution. Very convincing, and great use of the cockfight/nuclear war quote! "Citizens deserve respect, quiet" But then there's this one... very cliché, no new ground broken, kind of a stereotypical "play nice" plea. A second editorial like the previous one and y'all would've been a lock for first or second place.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. The Smithville Times - By Christopher Waghorne Gwin. "Living outside the law" Excellent lead and solid conclusion. "Political pitfalls" Nice effort throughout. Good job of blowing a raspberry at those vying for office.

2. The Canadian Record - By Laurie Ezzell Brown. "Myth and misconception" Good style and local emphasis. Good execution of explaining issues to reader. "Living with the law" Good, timely editorial.

3. Pilot Point Post-Signal - By David Lewis. "Cowards are walking among us" Good writing, but layout and delivery make this better suited in a columnist category. "The state of taxes" No comment.

4. The Clifton Record - "Area fire departments need, deserve extra help" by David Anderson. Nice layout. Lead doesn't grab readers' attention. "Speak out against Trans Texas Corridor" by W. Leon Smith. Good lead.

Division 9 Small Weeklies

1. Muleshoe Journal - "Tough decisions ahead" Good writing. Great editorial. "Shelter...not separation" Good editorial. Would have liked to know a little more about what happened.

2. Eldorado Success - By Randy Mankin. "An open letter to our out-of-county subscribers" Excellent review of USPS. "Decide now which flag you're going to salute, then look to that country for your civil rights" Excellent tutorial on the flag. Good question.

3. The Citizen, Clear Lake - "No justice" Excellent editorial. "Try some honey" Didn't follow why he was ousted or how. Was he not re-elected? Thrown out? Otherwise, a very well-written and good editorial.

4. The Clarendon Enterprise - By Roger Estlack. "AG's office should back off trustees. "Vote carefully on question of tax freeze" Good editorial.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. Wallis News Review - By Johnny Griffin. "Schools" A little rambling, but makes its point in a nice folksy way. Personal without being indulgent. "9-11" Same here - folksy voice, readable, slow to come to the point but clear when it does.

2. The Brackett News - By Leigh Volcsko. "Sometimes" HAH! Nice, not-so-subtle (water) way to make a point. Almost stream-of-consciousness writing, but surprisingly it works. The last sentence is great! "OK" HAH! Again. Had low hopes for this at the start but the next-to-last paragraph made up for it.

3. Burnet County Citizens Gazette - "The scores keep falling" and "Immigration making news" No comments.

4. None awarded.