2007 Better Newspaper Contest — News 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


News Writing

Division 2 Large Dailies

1. The Monitor, McAllen - "Hooked on the border" by James Osborne. Lede makes story come alive, puts the reader on the roof looking out. Flawless structure and use of real people to tell the story. "The toughest task of all" by Cari Hammerstrom. Must have great sources to get the police to talk so openly so quickly. Strong quotes and strong emotion.

2. The Beaumont Enterprise - "4 die in domestic carnage" by Beth Gallaspy. Thorough coverage. Keeps reader's attention at every paragraph. Great overall package. "A parent's worst nightmare" by Jacqueline Lane and Rolando Garcia. Great use of detail. Wonderful stories.

3. Lufkin Daily News - By Ashley Cook. "In the name of Candice" Excellent use of real cases (people) to tell what could have been a quick police story. "Running on Empty" Nice details. Sad situation.

4. The Galveston County Daily News - "DeLay steps down" by T.J. Aulds. Nice exclusive. Great overall package, perfect length. "Lawmakers, FEMA getting serious about frequent flood fliers" by Laura Elder. Interesting story. Would have loved to hear from the people allegedly abusing the system.

Division 3 Small Dailies

1. Alice Echo News Journal - "Sheriff Barrera releases prisoner; bond not paid" by Sue Fleming. The reporting reflects tenacity, clearly needed in trying to press the sheriff for a truthful accounting of how an inmate left the jail. "Muddy water - or worse" by Ofelia Garcia Hunter. No comments.

2. Brownwood Bulletin - By Candace Cooksey Fulton. "Saying farewell to a hero" No comments. "'Puppy mill' raid yields 87 dogs" Thorough with good attention to telling details. Nice quotes.

3. Seguin Gazette Enterprise - By Melissa Johnson. "Navarro board votes to cut ties with Harriger" Thorough, well-balanced reporting. "SEDC board gives nod to legal action against Mike Story" No comments.

4. Plainview Daily Herald - "Teacher could face false report charge" by Craig Cummings. Good detail. An easy read. "Officials monitor MySpace" by Richard Porter. No comments.

Division 4 Large Semiweeklies

1. Wise County Messenger - By Brian Knox. "Fire leaves families homeless" It's clear the reporter really hustled on this one. Lots of information, but the human element is strongly emphasized. "SPCA takes dogs from Decatur couple" Good quotes, nice use of detail. Fascinating story.

2. Williamson County Sun - "Fire strikes old town landmark" by Trey McLendon. Great detail offered, especially in the history of the home. Also nice use of context. Good kicker. "Moore ID'd in jail sex-capade" by Ben Trollinger. No comment.

3. Hood County News - By Denise Morris. "Hostage remained calm; so did escapee" and "Woman chases down thief" It's clear in both stories that Denise knows how to cultivate and make good use of her sources. It's also clear she had fun with these stories. Great quotes!

4. Round Rock Leader - By Marcial Guajardo. "Moore murder trial begins" Love the lede, not the usual trial fare. Nice detail "Immigration debate hits home" No comments.

Division 5 Small Semiweeklies

1. San Benito News - "Man gets six year sentence" by Michael Rodriguez. Nice use of detail. You can tell the reporter was there. "Witness in Hayes case speaks" by Celeste Y. Tello. Interesting and thorough.

2. Breckenridge American - By Don Treul. "Trooper shoots ax-wielding man" Nice lede and good reporting. "One dead, one jailed in Sunday shooting" Another nice lede and lots of detail.

3. Bowie County Citizens Tribune - By Lou Antonelli. "Rally denounces DPS 'dishonesty'" Filled with information and detail from people involved. "A wild day in Hooks" Thorough and interesting. Judge gives kudos for the photo of the bloody steps that the writer took.

4. Andrews County News - By Sam Kaufman. "Lasting relationships: Redmond gains HT3R wisdom, contact through Japan visit" Interesting lede. Informative. "Dedication ceremony draws 2,000" Details were a nice touch.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Burleson County Tribune - By Roy Sanders. "Affidavit indicates Strong was troubled" Good depth into character of Strong. Well-written. "Strong dies after gun battle" Great detail on big story, excellent.

2. Pleasanton Express - "Express, Atascosa Co. mourn loss of Sammie" by Gerald Black. Wonderful tribute. "Guilty as charged" by Lisa Luna. Good detail, well done.

3. The Free Press, Buda/Kyle - By Jen Biundo. "'I'm scared' Buda teen ponders prospect of 20 years in jail for sexual assault" Talented writer. Drew me right in! "Blunderpalooza? Future is iffy for music fest" Great headline (on both of these) good in depth reporting.

4. The Jasper Newsboy - By Jimmy Galvan. "Walker, police at odds over cases" Well done, important story. "Sting sheds light on buyers of local drug action" Flowed well, interesting, excellent journalism.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. Schulenburg Sticker - By Beth Wiseman. "Man serving life sentence in Colorado implicates himself in 22-year-old Fayette County murder case" Best job of research and detail of all the entries. Solid from top to bottom. Great style and flow, keeps attention of reader. "City council gets earful from overflow crowd Monday night" Felt as if I was there. Lots of detail, fair coverage of tempers flaring and showing both sides. Writer did great job on two very diverse topics. Clear winner.

2. Bandera Bulletin - By Jessica Hawley-Jerome. "Grandmother refutes child abuse allegations" both entries are examples of superb coverage of very sensitive topics. Excellent leads, great research. "Victimized children in protective custody" Both articles flow very well and don't get salacious when that would have been easy. Uniformly excellent.

3. Westlake Picayune - "EISD: Staph infections in Eanes jump" by Ava Benson. Local issue gets solid treatment. Typos, staff and staph, hurt a bit, but very good work. "Open records spark lawsuit" by Dane Anderson. Extremely well written, solid in every area. Great attention to detail, excellent lead. One of the best.

4. Clay County Leader - By Phil Major. "Robber strikes Citibank in downtown Henrietta" Concise, interesting, good lead, very thorough. Nice style. "New Year's Day inferno: Most of Ringgold destroyed as high winds drive fire from Clay County" Excellent lead, well-paced and nice flow. Very solid entry among some very good ones.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. The Smithville Times - By Mark Gwin. "Getting skinned selling water" Extremely well done work on a very timely topic. Solid lead, good flow, very thorough. "Sparks fly at council meeting" Best account of a city council meeting I have read for some time. Caught the action and "feel" of the controversy. Excellent work.

2. The Canadian Record - By Laurie Ezzell Brown. "Two-day manhunt ends with arrest of Oklahoma jail escapees near Canadian" Solid effort top to bottom. Excellent writing style. Close to being a winner in a very competitive category. "5 days in the line of fire" Made me feel as though I was there. Great style, just a complete job of covering the story. Good quotes and flow.

3. The Clifton Record - By Deborah Matthews. "Bronze Horn Shelter face unveiled" Very thorough and interesting coverage of a unique topic. Could have used a stronger lead but well done. "Landmark pipeline agreement formalized" Very solid news article. Extremely detailed look at a topic evidently very important to the area. Good job.

4. Pilot Point Post-Signal - "Fire roars through cabinet shop" by Richard Greene. A big story that got big coverage. Extremely thorough, good quotes, solid timeline. Nice job. "Is city hard for developers to deal with?" by Brandon Evans.  Covers all the angles on a very important issue and gives readers a clear look at a serious problem. A lot of work went into this.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. Crowley Star - By Tom Beesley. "Police release racial profiling statistical report" Good job making an otherwise boring story very interesting and informative. Well written. "Brittainey's revenge...North Crowley Lady Panthers finish season, but not before Brittainey Raven made her point" Excellent writing. Good storytelling. Concise, well documented thoughts.

2. The Citizen, Clear Lake - "Search comes to a deadly end" by Mary Alys Cherry. Well-written. "Man awarded $1 for 105 acres Port condemned" by Dana Burke. Excellent reporting of a complicated issue. Actually, another newspaper submitted the same story but it was difficult to read. Well done.

3. Ingleside Index - By Kurt Mogonye. "Council terminates city manager" Good concise reporting. Easy to understand what happened in a difficult situation. Great job! "Council considers benefit cuts" Ditto!

4. Muleshoe Journal - By Larry Thornton. "Police chief says there is no substitute for integrity" Great story, well-written. "How old is old? Seniors voice opposition to age rule" Great story. Keep those young whipper-snappers in their place, away from the dance hall.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. Overton Press - By Charlotte Heldenbrand. "Communication gap discussed at meeting" and "Local woman killed in car, train wreck" No comments.

2. East Bernard Express - By Ronald K. Sanders and Benjamin C. Sharp. "Men's bodies discovered in EB" Good news story. Well-written. "DA seeks death penalty in Segrest case" Good reporting.

3. Little Elm Journal - By Devin Monk. "Student protest takes to the streets" Good reporting and timely subject. "Town shuts down school" Good reporting.

4. Murphy Monitor - "Neighbors negotiate religious deeds" by Billi Gray. Good reporting. "Four arrested as sexual predators" by Jamie Engle. Good reporting and writing.