2008 Better Newspaper Contest — Headline Writing

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

Headline Writing

Division 2 Large Dailies

1. Fort Bend Herald, Rosenberg — “Redundancy problem: Report on reports reports too many reports” Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! “What your 2 cents is worth: Our cities reap big bucks off or pennies” and “Walking on the ‘dreadmill’ — Those cheap calories keep getting cheaper by the day”

2. The Facts, Clute — “Runs, hits and eras — T-ballers play for residents of Country Village Care in Angleton” I really like this one! Nice story too. “Going to bat for stranger; Bat-wielding Freeport resident wards off woman’s assailants” “Mayor see lack of adds as a minus: Freeport to buy advertising to recruit members for city panels” Witty and hits the point of the story.

3. The Galveston County Daily News — “Cat got your verdict? Judge deadlocks on cat shooting; retrial ruled out” Good attention-grabbing. “TAKS evasion? Students who failed exit exam find new ways to get a diploma” Very good. I really want to read the rest of the story. “State will shell out for isle’s beaches: Funding will pay to widen West End beach by about 200 feet”

4. The Beaumont Enterprise — “How about cold turkey for holidays? Today, American Cancer Society wants smokers to kick the habit” “Pain cocktail puts hurt on cash-only doc: State suspend physician, says he prescribed same drugs to 800 patients regardless of condition” Good attention-getting headline on important story. “Stick figures — Hockey team budgets $60,000 to ensure even hardest-hitting players don’t go empty-handed” I like the “stick figures” part best.

Division 3 Small Dailies

1. The River Cities Daily Tribune, Marble Falls — “Highway to cell: Judge returns Dewey to prison” Nice play on words, better yet if Dewey had driving infraction. “Screeching halt: Marble Falls pulls camera van as legislation looms” Good head, tells reader camera van ousted from road work. “Getting whipped good” Totally tells the story of what happened.

2. Alice Echo News Journal — “Public’s bark silenced by Mayor’s bite — Council meeting ‘pawsed’ by Puddles protestors” Makes me want to read the story. “Accused cheese cooks grilled by cops — Barrera, Garcia allegedly broke into restaurant; caught stealing cheese” Grilled cheese — nice play on words. “The Shitzu hits the fan — Mayor accused of stealing neighbor’s dog” Very clever play on words.

3. Stephenville Empire Tribune — “BEEliminated: Guyer drops Stephenville from playoffs” Excellent play on words. “Gas leak ‘reeks’ havoc” Very clever word choice. “Who shot Don Wright?" Headline calls attention to case.

4. Terrell Tribune — “In gourd company” Can never go wrong with kid picture, especially with catchy head. “Dill or no dill — Terrell grower is just pickled by her success” Couldn’t decipher how this was meant to be clever. “Rodeoactive: Edwards trades X-rays for saddles and stunts” Nice tie to activity.

Division 4 Large Weeklies

1. Wise County Messenger — “Forecast for Precinct 4: Dry — Petition for sale of beer and wine fails for lack of signatures” Very nice, good play on words. “Love hurts: Jealousy may have prompted back-stabbing incident” Another great play on words in more ways than one. “Ough Hell: Brad Ough is ready for Texas’ toughest bike ride” Good.

2. Fayette County Record — “Teeny-weeny Ballerini” Fun to read and say, good. “Children in the corn — Students are all ears in finding their way through maze of maze” Great head and subhead. “Be right there, deer — Hunters will be far afield on Saturday” Nice, you know those guys have said that.

3. Hood County News — “Dust busters: Wacky wind blows weekend” Nice verb. “Roads have gone to pot” Good, but been done before. “Tutu-wearing cowboy: not his first rodeo” Hilarious when you read on, and headline does good job of getting you to do that.

4. The Graham Leader — “ACU takes a ‘Chance’ on McCoy” Not bad, good use of name and school in head. “A TAKSing week of tests — Schools confident as testing gets under way” Very creative. Gold star to whoever thought this one up. “Santa’s elves wear leather — Lake Country cruisers turn into angels at Christmas” Good one. Way to do a different take on common theme.

Division 5 Small Semiweeklies

1. San Benito News — “Armed & negotiating: City leaders address PD needs” “Innocence lost: Killer’s motive not yet known” and “Monkey business: Animal goes ape in San Benito” Nice short, intriguing headlines prompt reader to want to know more.

2. Copperas Cove Leader Press — “Dawg gone? Relax, Cove fans — the Bulldawg on the water tank behind HEB will be replaced” “Sight unseen: Copperas Cove man brings home sixth victory in U.S. blind chess championship” and “Principal can’t duck students — Students at Mae Stevens — named one of best schools in state — take aim at putting Slagle in duck outfit through reading” A close second. These headlines also spark an interest.

3. Wimberley View — “Pro-bond group PACs a punch — Developers pouring big bucks into pro-road bond groups” Nice play on words. Also by using the initials in the headline reader is able to define and identify their meaning more readily. “PEC of mind: Citizens demand answers from energy coop during annual meeting Saturday” and “Hooray for everything — All measures on local ballots pass easily”

4. The Sealy News — “Talkin’ trash: City dumps Allied, picks Texas Disposal” “‘Forgotten War’ veteran still has memories” and “Sparking a new career: Welding class benefits workforce” These are all good, just not as unique as the other entries.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Park Cities People — “Missed chances sink Scots — Lake Travis drowns HP’s title hopes 36-34” This headline is a nice play on words with the opposing team’s name, but also goes perfectly with the “sunken” expression of the photo. “One flue over the Scots’ soccer success — Team sickness helps tighten playoff race, but HP still controls destiny” A complicated but clever play on words that works, especially with the explanatory subhead. “Websligner con queso: Will Spidey and Mary Jane finally tie the know? Who cares?” This head definitely draws the eye but doesn’t seem to be a great reflection of the actual article.

2. Silsbee Bee — “Snakes alive! Slithering proliferation a rite of spring” Short and simple, goes well with the subhead. “Hometown homeless: If a man’s home is his castle, then Vernon’s dominion spreads far and wide. You’ll find him living on the streets of Silsbee” Very nice contrast in this headline, the idea of being in your hometown but without a home works well, and the perception that this doesn’t happen “in my hometown” is deflated in two words. “Joint effort: Sheriff’s department, Silsbee PD nab pot runners” This is a very funny headline, especially paired with the photo of three solemn officers and all that marijuana.

3. Hays Free Press, Kyle — “When bees attack: Hive hampers Hays hellos” The headline holds the unexpected meaning, and the alliteration in the subhead works very well. “Hays gets the Moody blues — Rebels’ season ends against state’s top-ranked team” Clever pun as a headline for the story, though it doesn’t work well above the joyous photo. “Buda’s heart happy after bypass” Very clever headline for the “heart” of a town and the impact from a truck “bypass.” Gave impact to a seemingly mundane event.

4. Nueces County Record Star — “Record rainfall leaves area flooded and saturated” Weather is important news to people, but this headline could have had more impact with a stronger verb than “leaves.” “School officer stripped of position — District also suspends three other employees” Interesting play on the word “stripped,” which gains more meaning once the reader gets into the story. “Aerial fireworks ban up in the air — County judge may still issue emergency order in drought continues” Good imagery for a brief headline. Could have even more impact without the word “aerial,” to eliminate redundancy.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. The Smithville Times — “In a few more days, one dollar store short”  Great headline that tells it all. “ Fertilizing the community’s roots with jazz” Clever! “Good things come to those who bait” The best of the three.

2. The Community News, Aledo — “Wins keep goings and goings: Varsity teams help Aledo coach reach 300 career wins” Nice job of tying in the coach’s name. “Can you hear me now? Concert noise prompts complaints” Catchy headline. “Nutcracker? Sweet” Cute.

3. Clay County Leader — “Pop quiz: How much will a 20 student decline cost HISD?” Good headline. “Courthouse outhouse going down the drain” Funny. “Made in the shade: Spring rains help, hinder production” Tells it all.

4. Freestone County Times — “County clock runneth over: Commissioners deal with overtime” Catchy. “Cleaning lady encouraged to stay — Teague city attorney fired” Funny. “Downpour of rain and donations at Freestone County Fair Livestock show” Ties well into the story.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. Hill Country News, Cedar Park — “Quintessential! Cedar Park couple has record-breaking quintuples” Nice! “Lions out-Fox Panthers in final moments, 37-36” It took me a minute to get the “fox” thing but I like it. “Helter shelter? County animal shelter controversy heats up”

2. Refugio County Press — “MySpace: Keeping in touch, but revealing too much?” good summary of article. “Garcia’s grand champion steer goes ‘Distance’” and “Beware of matin’ gators” My friend and I burst out laughing at this headline! Well done!

3. The Springtown Epigraph — “Patience, skill and a nice little donkey” Cute! “Wrecks pile up on 199” The other two headlines are really clever, but this one is rather ordinary. “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em: Council keeps city’s nose out of smoking ban issue” I especially like the subhead.

4. The Canadian Record — “Hell and high water: Tornados rip through Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, killing 3 leaving chaos in their wake” A nice switch on a common phrase. I don’t like how the headline and the lead are the same though. “Cats ‘D’eny Idalou: Goal line tackle sends Canadian to semifinals” Creative wordplay. “At-large animals get citizens’ goats — City council sharpens teeth of animal ordinances … again” Good. I especially like the use of ellipses.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. The Gladewater Mirror — “Limb pick up won’t cost arm and a leg” Clever. “Engineer: no damn-ing evidence” Creative. “Beware of owner: DA sending puppy mill operator to mental hospital” Clever/original.

2. Big Sandy & Hawkins Journal — “One potato two potato 3000 lbs. of potatoes: Bumper crop donated to local charities” Clever. “Cats cave to battering Rams — Despite early lead, Big Sandy Wildcats fall 37-8 to Joaquin” Creative. “Flag football: Cats dodge penalties as refs see red” Original.

3. Desoto Today — “Learning to be M-E: Helping others improve must start with y-o-u” Nice, clever and creative. “Three-day walk provides clarity for charity” Just OK. “Sex is complex, but it shouldn’t be triple X” Nice use of alliteration.

4. Joshua Star — “No bull: Longhorns bring in long green” Not bad, clever. “No mor txt msgs?? — !!” Creative. “nuf era snaf slwO” Took me a bit to get this one — perhaps a subhead to clarify would have helped.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. Malakoff News — “Between a rock and an old place: Local building society presents building proposal” Cute and does pull the reader into story. “What’s the beef? Athens designation as home of the hamburger debated” Even though this old fast food slogan has been used many times, it works in this instance, and pulls you into the story. “The High Water Mark: Area residents meet with state agency, lawmakers” Very clever, especially combined with the graphic element.

2. Murphy Monitor — “Murphy cemetery group resurrected” Clever and on target. “Exploring options: Murphy teen cuffs competition” Cute use of “exploring” and cuffs. “Council slaps at mosquito issue” Cute, a little of a stretch but it still works.

3. The Brackett News — “Two more water board directors: All tapped out” Clever and speaks to restriction of board members resigning. “City leaders talk trash — Disposal costs could bankrupt city in six months” Cute headline on city story that could be dull. “Tiger logo has got to go — The beloved BHS tiger head belongs to another” Catchy and gets right to the point. Nice to include tiger logo as well.

4. Keene Star — “Coming soon” Clever, would liked to have seen subhead as well. “A helping hand” Compelling, works well with cutline. “By George, it’s really him” Clever.