2008 Better Newspaper Contest — General Excellence


Division 2 Dailies 7,001 to 99,999
Division 3 Dailies 7,000 or Less
Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More
Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less
Division 6 Large Weeklies
Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies
Division 8 Medium Weeklies
Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies
Division 10 Small Weeklies

General Excellence

View Winners' Slideshow

Division 1 Metro Dailies

1. San Antonio Express-News — The Express-News is the clear winner in this category,  grabbing me from the first instant with its “breaching America” and “four feet under” reports. Excellent reproduction, clean layout and hard-hitting columnists make this the best paper in Texas, partner.

2. Houston Chronicle — Susan Carroll’s human trafficking story was excellent and should have been placed above the fold. I can read an oil story any day, especially in Texas. “Casualty of war: Fahim’s story” should have been on page 1 in the A section. A good newspaper just not #1.

3. Fort Worth Star-Telegram — Watch color bleeds on color pages. This is a good newspaper, it’s just that the other two in the category were better.

Division 2 Large Dailies

1. The Beaumont Enterprise — Stories were written and presented well. Layout is clean and leads you around every page. Cheating special report was well done, with good A1 refer to package inside.

2. Odessa American — Excellent headline, particularly in news sections. Coverage of police officers funeral was great example of good spot news coverage.

3. Victoria Advocate — We liked the front page icons and design of the “bad arrest” centerpiece. We did think the special report on the nuclear plant was too busy and lacked any clear direction. Too many fonts.

4. Midland Reporter-Telegram — The Horizon section was solid and gave readers a lot of information. Liked the section fronts but posed portrait photography seldom works.

Division 3 Small Dailies

1. The River Cities Daily Tribune, Marble Falls — Overall sold publication. Good writing throughout. Presentation put this publication ahead of the rest.

2. Henderson Daily News — Good writing and news coverage. Presentation of feature photography lacked any direction. All the photos on the family page were the same size, which gave no direction to the story.

3. Brownwood Bulletin — The writing throughout put this publication in a solid third place.

4. Sulphur Springs News Telegram — Solid page display but too many fonts.

Division 4 Large Semiweeklies

1. Wise County Messenger — Solid publication throughout. Holistic healing feature in particular was well-written. Presented in a nice open layout. Refers throughout Dec. 30 edition showcase, effectively lure readers inside.

2. Beeville Bee-Picayune — Overall good publication with good presentation. Could use some work on headlines, but photography layout helped publication stand out in crowded field.

3. Wharton Journal-Spectator — Good clean front page display. Skybox refers were easy to read. We liked the way you refered the mill remnants “What did they find?” package.

4. Burleson Star — Very good front page display with lead/fresh photography. Clean fonts…easy to read headlines.

Division 5 Small Semiweeklies

1. The Highlander, Marble Falls — The stories and photos of the flood were very captivating and they were enhanced by interesting sidebars. The sports section layout looks really good in each issue. The special flood edition insert had extensive coverage from many interesting angles.

2. Wimberley View — “Mother of all surprises” and “Sharon” follow-up were well-written (jump didn’t match on “Sharon.”) Front pages were attractive. Community view had nice layout in each issue.

3. Copperas Cove Leader Press — “Remembering Rocket man” was very well-written. Flood coverage had good photos, map graphic. Good local coverage. Amusing sports columnists.

4. Lampasas Dispatch Record — Nice front photo of little girl. Good lifestyles and sports sections.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Park Cities People — For the record/muting highlights is creative, good “to-the-point” way to report council meetings. Very interesting combining home and garden and real estate to make a Real Estate section; great idea and good way to combine content and advertising. Headline hierarchy was a little different, too many bold, heavy heads on one page and down page. Very nice extensive use of photos throughout overall, very creative progressive and strong.

2. Houston Business Journal — Nice design on the Around and About page, fresh way to cover/display that. Tool box is cool and different way to present or include such information. Lots of content that is thorough and hits several angles, you can tell a lot of work goes in to gathering and presenting it all, nice work.

3. The Rockdale Reporter — Very strong, reader friendly paper throughout. Strong news and community coverage.

4. Hays Free Press, Kyle — Well-organized throughout, clean, symmetric design. Neighbors special section is strongest part of paper with great use of photos, design and writing. Nice job, sometimes it was hard for me to realize this was a weekly.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. Westlake Picayune — Very tight and crisp paper. I love the use of white space as a key design element. Colors are balanced, photos engaging and stories are compelling.

2. The Countywide, Karnes City — A good-looking paper that drew me in immediately. Nice balance of community news and content. It’s an intelligent read for the average reader.

3. The Community News, Aledo — The communities served by this paper seem equally represented. The page design is pleasing and the use of engaging photos works to tie together content. Stories are well-written.

4. Medina Valley Times — An all-over good paper. A few design issues that might bear renewing but a whole, good paper. (Watch the descenders don’t top over ascenders.) Creativity counts and there’s a lot of creativity working here.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. Pilot Point Post-Signal — Nice, clean look to the paper. Doesn’t have the “compartmentalized” look where there might be 12 stories on a page full of boxes with stories. Good local information. Good photos, especially in sports section. Really impressed with sport photos!

2. Hill Country Community Journal, Kerrville >— Excellent front page sports pics. The action shots made me say “wow.” Lots of good sport photos inside too, ran them big, which is nice to see. Thought it was well-rounded news coverage, looked like quite a bit was locally generated.

3. Farmersville Times — I liked the small-town appeal of the paper. Most of the stories had local angle, really gave a “snapshot” of what life must be like in Farmersville. Nice mix of news and feature on front page.

4. Castroville News Bulletin — Paper does a nice job of covering all the news bits in the area. Nice mix of news and features on front page.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. Desoto Today — The stand out in the group in nearly every category. Nice job by everyone in every section.

2. The Albany News — Well-balanced paper with well-written stories and overall quality photos. A little too gray on some pages. Overall, an award winner.

3. The Citizen, Clear Lake — Different sports section heads one good and one not so good; hard to read sports stories that are three-column wide. Good overall news stories that are well-written. Could have been a top two finisher with a few changes. Nice paper overall.

4. Van Alstyne Leader — Above average in all categories. Nice layout with exceptional color photos. Some of the section headers could be improved. Editorial page(s) could be stronger — more hard thoughts than columnists writing fluff.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. Alvarado Star — Stands out as the best in this class! Attractive eye-catching front pages — cowboy kid is an excellent photo. The top banner for “inside” stories is well done. Good variety of headlines, font sizes. Excellent section heads with good stories. Very good editorial/opinion pages. The only thing lacking is a good sports section. Work on that and a grade A paper could even receive a higher mark.

2. Sachse News — Not far from the top; six column headline are used too often. But overall, clean and attractive layouts. Sections are well-defined. Color adds a lot to this paper. Exceptional sports section, but “upcoming games” could be done differently. Nice job overall!

3. Murphy Monitor — Strong front pages, although headline size and fonts could vary a bit. Clean looking pages and easy to read. Sections contain ample number of stories. Ranks close to the top two in this category. Liked the front page photo on July 12 issue.

4. Keene Star — A distant fourth-place finisher from the top three. Good photos and quality of writing. Lacks the content of the top three — sports and editorial in particular. Overall well-designed and attractive paper.