2007 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 Large Dailies

1. The Beaumont Enterprise - By F.A. Krift. "Keepers of the Barrier: At a lonely site that lies between salt water and fresh, two workers learn to live with isolation, alligators and lightning" Interesting glimpse into a lifestyle that many would find lonely. Nice description of the area, gives the reader a vivid sense of isolation. "Country Miles: FM1 is the original scenic route" Good example of enterprising feature and the reporter clearly had fun with this story.

2. Kerrville Daily Times - "Parents again: A number of local grandparents have found themselves raising their grandchildren" by Alison Beshur. No comments. "New chapter for the 'book'" by Bill Begley. Nicely, executed lede and wonderful use of detail throughout the story. Also appreciated the use of quotes. The reader really gets to know Taylor, both as an athlete and a person.

3. The Galveston County Daily News - "Winds of change: More consumers turn to wind, solar panels to power their homes" by Laura Elder. No comments. "Poker's face: Local player bets on success at tournament" by Greg Barr. Entertaining profile of someone who's clearly a character. I can tell the reporter had fun with this story.

4. The Monitor, McAllen - "A test of faith: Teen's battle with cancer changes family's perspective" by Paige Lauren Deiner. A compelling story of a family's pain and determination. "Stacking up: New wave of shoe styles gets higher, more comfortable" by Miriam Ramirez. No comments.

Division 3 Small Dailies

1. River Cities Daily Tribune, Marble Falls - "Making a joyful noise: Music helping local kids learn" by Daniel Clifton. Wonderful layout, great use of color and white space, even on jump page. Daniel Clifton has it all, great writing and wonderful eye for photo composition. Kudos to the page designer. "Fish story: Local experts raise fish for anglers" by Chris Porter. Chris Porter has a knack with words: "They're almost like dogs." Good layout, art. Enjoyed reading.

2. Waxahachie Daily Light - "Heroes under fire: Wounded trooper recalls Midlothian shooting, credits heroism of others" by JoAnn Livingston. Great, great story of tragic event. Livingston is certainly a storyteller. Lede forces the reader in and compels one to continue. Layout could have been stronger, especially on jump page. "Racing with snakes: City's director of utilities takes part in unusual event" by Eric Lidji. Cute story. Nice comparison of subject's utility job dangers with snake racing.

3. The Terrell Tribune - By Justin Jones. "Uniting both sides of the track" Great page design, nice use of color. Art nicely composed. Lead was a little long and could have been stronger, but overall a good story on a sensitive subject. "Katrina revisited" Jones is good at showing several aspects of what is, essentially, a shared experience. Manages to show positive outcome from three horrifyingly heartbreaking stories. Layout and design contributed to this package being judged no. 3.

4. Alice Echo News Journal - By Nicole D. Perez. "From the barrio to brigadier general: Woman with ties to South Texas first Hispanic female to earn rank" Just a great story, well-told and highly readable. Perez writes a compelling story. Layout was weak. "'I lost my chance'" Touching story. Perez knows what she's doing. Considerate treatment of the suicide. Garcia's photo of cheerleader touches the heart. Strong layout. Perez's "barrio" story made this package a strong candidate for third place, but layout was weak.

Division 4 Large Semiweeklies

1. Wise County Messenger - By Brian Knox. "finding Tristen's smile" What a story! What art! What design! "Finding Tristen's smile" was just too well-done. The judges' words of praise are not in the same league with the storytelling skills of writer Knox, photographer (Joe) Duty and designer (Todd) Griffith. "the smallest gift" "The smallest gift" was a pleasure to read and look at. A great package. The Messenger should be very proud of this trio of journalists.

2. Hood County News - "On foot: from the Panhandle to Granbury" by Pete Kendall. Lovely layout and design. Kendall writes a good story. Very strong lede. "Quietly making his mark" by Rick Mauch. Mauch definitely knows his way around a heartwarming feature story and (Mary) Vinson has an eye for art. Kudos to the page designer.

3. Beeville Bee-Picayune - By Scott Reese Willey. "Jimmy's words" Willey put a lot of work into this story and it shows. Graphics and art elements also show a lot of work, but design is a little crowded. "Why are our doctors leaving?" Marvelous. Just a ton of work. Loved the pic with faces circled and the "clipboard" graphic. Very nice design.

4. Wharton Journal-Spectator - By Benjamin C. Sharp. "Being knit together in love..." Lovely design and story. Nice lede: "It's more than threading together yarn." Nice, simple. "The final fall: In most places autumn is back-to-school time but in Hungerford this year it's when 'the walls come tumblin' down'" I just loved this story. And the black-and-white art was eminently appropriate. Good job.

Division 5 Small Semiweeklies

1. The Monitor, Mabank - "'Mo' knows: MHS sophomore excels at athletics, life" by Kerry Yancey. Good headline and good story. Like the use of sources and good writing style. "Following in dad's footsteps: Kemp senior builds '57 Chevy from scraps" by Barbara Gartman. Cute story, good writing style, OK lede.

2. The Sealy News - By Tracy Dang. "Road to recovery looking for drivers" Good personal spin on story of community wide importance. Question: Why does Austin County rate high for cancer? "Long overdue: Local WWII vet to receive medals" Good quotes, short informative paragraphs.

3. Lampasas Dispatch Record - "This old house: Turn-of-the-century home headed to Oatmeal" by Lisa Carnley. Lede too bulky and HGTV is more important than being buried in middle of story! Fun use of fonts and pics "Visit by the VP: Cheney praises Fort Hood troops" by Jim Lowe. Interesting lede. Good writing style and pic.

4. Jack County Herald - By Kim Gibby. "Firefighter falls in line of duty; brotherhood bands together" Tells story well. Good lede and good story-telling. "Extreme makeover : Good Housekeeping gives Bryson classroom facelift" Interesting story. Could have gotten pics/quotes from students. Both stories a bit dry.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Port Aransas South Jetty - "36 years later, Celia memories live on" by Phil Reynolds. Great story excellently written! "Athlete-scholar had no warning" by Dan Parker. Great human-interest story, excellent writing.

2. Mansfield News-Mirror - "Dealing with diabetes: First-grader learning hard lessons" by Amanda Rogers. Excellent content and lead. Great subject, good writing (didn't follow instructions as to placing story in red brackets.) "Pure country: Local honky tonk offers a taste of Lone Star State" by Mario Zavala Jr. Good story, good writing. Great photos. (didn't follow instructions to place story in red brackets.)

3. Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post - "Letting go: Metzgers closing department store after 87 years of success in downtown" by Cathy Collier. Great story content. Good lead and good writing. "FHS junior 'acquires the fire' on trip to Romania" by Yvonne Hartmann. Good story but average writing.

4. Rockdale Reporter - "Intrepid visit: Local WWII vet who lived through Kamikaze strikes returns to visit aircraft carrier" by Mike Brown. Very inspiring. Excellent lead, good presentation of facts. "A history of music: longtime club to get historical marker 2 p.m. Sunday" by Christine Granados. Very good, excellent history in photos.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. Westlake Picayune - By Dane Anderson. "A noble endeavor: Writer, filmmaker Turk Pipin looks for answers in all the right places" Missing several periods and commas. Great amount and quality of quotes, very interesting story. Good writing style. "Seeking the truth: Dr. Andy Wakefield offers hope to parents of autistic children at Thoughtful House" Very interesting and informative with great quotes. Great layout, wonderful depth of story.

2. Cedar Hill Today - By Loyd Brumfield. "Kelly's in critical condition: It may just be a dummy but it feels like life and death" Great story setup. Very enjoyable to read and informative. "From Capetown to Cedar Hill...They've come a long way" Very interesting. Great way to provide insightful info about subjects as complex as South African life and culture in a more narrow context. Lead could have been more gripping.

3. Big Bend Sentinel - By Sterry Butcher. "Rumors of an area Wal-Mart are greatly exaggerated for now" Writing style and subject matter is a hoot. Good amount quotes, thoroughly researched. "Steam engine makes cameo appearance in Marfa Wednesday afternoon" Cute. Not really sure the point, but great portrayal of one moment in time. Love the vernacular.

4. West Austin News - "Chess club at Bryker Woods" by Alena Moehring Mallard. Lede isn't too catchy. "Art on wheels rolls through Austin" by Alice Popovici. Fun subject and great pic. Funny lede and interesting.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. Pilot Point Post-Signal - By Brandon Evans. "Project helps veterans get back to normal" With the current emphasis on veterans care, this hits home. Nice piece. "Learning from life, death" A good read on a special life-death situation in Mexico.

2. Refugio County Press - By Kenda Nelson. "Journalist/author returns home: He was a soldier once and young..." Good and timely profile. Sometimes we don't do enough about journalists. "Migraines interrupt teen's life" Good insight into a topic many of us know little about. Nice job of letting the girls tell the story.

3. Lindale News & Times - By Jack Stein. "'It was hot' first impression of Iraq" I'm sure this look at experiences in Iraq was well-received in your community. "Bringing joy is goal of 'mystery lady': New Lindale resident helps start school in positive manner" Wonderful profile of someone you couldn't name.

4. The Springtown Epigraph - "Cancer's lesson: Family learns to cherish time they have together" by Jeri Field. Quote lead slows down story initially but touching piece. "Dig? Archaeology can be load of fun especially if you're the patient type" by Carolea Hassard. Just a good read, nicely packaged with photos. I dug it. Pun intended.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. Muenster Enterprise - By Janet Felderhoff. "Diagnosis changes small Dakota Lamkins world" Compelling lede, subject matter. Nicely written. "Dreams shattered" 'It's not just you you're hurting'" Good coverage of the mock wreck. Photo gallery told a compelling story as well.

2. Pearland Journal - By Courtney Bajusz. "Oscar baskets a nice surprise: Local entrepreneur lands shoes first in Hollywood" Really enjoyed this story. Bajusz can certainly turn a phrase: "...hightail it to Hollywood for her." "Tree celebrates young boy's life" Touching treatment for what could easily have turned maudlin. Good job.

3. Muleshoe Journal - By Larry Thornton. "Roping camp can be a 'life-changing experience'" Good lede. Enjoyed this story. "Muleshoe author beginning work on her third book" Great lede, so descriptive.

4. Joshua Star - By Daun Eierdam. "Rocket Man: Joshua's Preston Hulcy learns what it's like to work for the nation's space program" Interesting story of young man's experience. "Jef fought until the end: 19-year-old was a warrior who never gave up hope, mother says" Nice lede.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. Alvarado Star - By Michael Rayburn. "When disaster strikes: After losing their home in a tragic fire, local family is learning that Alvarado does have a heart" Good layout! Good pics. Story well-written. "With open arms: Far from the Holy Land, the Alvarado community showed its compassion Saturday night as it welcomed an Israeli government official" Very good story and interesting layout.

2. Keene Star - By Paul Gnadt. "A Wanda-ful career: Retirement party for Keene ISD superintendent Wanda Smith is 2 p.m. on Sunday at Keene High School" Good headline and pics. Very well-written. "Something new for the Old West" Good layout. Also very well-written.

3. Princeton Herald - "Like Father, Like Daughter: Van Meters share in passion for golf" by Matthew Riley. Good layout. Well-written. "Memories of wartime still resonate after 60 years" by Jennifer Miller. Very engaging story.

4. The International, Presidio - "Presidio cowboy stars in PBS historical reality show" by James Tierney. Good lead. Well-written story, interesting subject. "Workshop participants learn to build Swan's adobe vaults, domes" by Megan Wilde. The layout on the front page is boring, inside is much better. Well-written story about an interesting subject.