2008 Better Newspaper Contest — News 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

News Writing

Division 2 Large Dailies

1. The Paris News — “Will the circus come to town?” by Bill Hankins. This story presents a unique angle to the immigration issue and illustrates the complexities very well. “Uninsured overcharged by hospitals, says dermatologist” by Mary Madewell. Again, this story uses a fine illustration to point out a very important issue facing the U.S. & Texas.

2. Lufkin Daily News — “Dying to play: Lufkin boy first local victim to die in choking game…” by Ashley Cook. The writers do a fine job of explaining the choking game and informing parents. “Terminal condition: Jennings Station used for buses, not much else since its construction” by Ashley Cook and Jessica Savage. Nice way to show waste of federal dollars. The photo sequence of empty terminal throughout the day works well.

3. The Galveston County Daily News — “Get the lead out — Study: 20 percent of isle children have lead poisoning” by Leigh Jones. This piece is the stronger of the two and illustrates a huge health problem facing Galveston. “Early threat — Virus that preys on infants and elderly makes an early arrival” by Laura Elder. More could have been done with this story to explore the issue of insurance. Any way to prevent the virus? Otherwise an important, informative health piece.

4. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal — “It’s been a year … Police still seek key evidence to solve Harrelson’s murder, Merimon’s disappearance” by Henri Brickey and “Fallen solider makes journey home” by Elliott Blackburn. These are both well-written, interesting stories but the writers could have explored other avenues.

Division 3 Small Dailies

1. Waxahachie Daily Light — by JoAnn Livingston. “Humane game: County officials have no solution to rising costs of abandoned pets” Use of heartbreaking photo and emotional angle … draws reader into the story. Writer does great job of telling complete story of issue and its ramifications. Great use of breakouts. Excellent job. “Man calls for EMS, gets police Tasers” Again, another excellent piece of journalism that covers all bases. Great job.

2. The River Cities Daily Tribune, Marble Falls — by Chris Porter. “Tracking the ‘wolf’ — Police still trying to make sense of killing spree that claimed 6 lives” Very well told story, effective use of inside source providing readers with a different insight to suspect. Very comprehensive timeline of events. Victim breakout helps put human face on tale. Good job. “Marble Falls teacher cited for second shoplifting” Interesting read.

3. Mineral Wells Index — “The stadium blame game” by Libby Cluett. Great lead, headline appropriate for story. Good use of sources (smooth transitional quotes would help.) Great use of breakout quotes and online component. Main photo could be better. Nice work. “Freedom short-lived for CCA escapees” by Lacie Morrison. Good lead, concise writing.

4. San Marcos Daily Record — by Anita Miller. “Michael Davis remembered: San Marcos man killed in Iraq ‘was the kind of guy people looked up to’” Not your typical war fatality story. Nice use of sources to humanize fallen soldier. “Under Pressure: Highway 130 project leaves some landowners expecting worst” Writer does an excellent job of highlighting the human impact of the construction project.

Division 4 Large Semiweeklies

1. The Boerne Star — “Sewer rate hike approved” by Dave Pasley. While government meetings are routine, the decisions made by a handful of people can have a big impact on many. Good detail in story. Comparison to other communities made for complete report. “Esperanza: Developer says they’re building a community” by Mark J. Armstrong. Economic development can take several directions though this package provides good detail on how a community is trying to plan for smart growth.

2. Fayette County Record — “Lewdness in park charged” by Larry Jackson. Interesting topic to fall into, however, story is straight-forward. Gets to the point quickly. “Robbery leaves owner shaken, 3 men sought.” By H.H. Howze. Detail was good. Catching up with the owner who had traumatic experience was good second day story.

3. Round Rock Leader — by Marcial Guajardo. “Haz-mat scare downtown: Authorities respond to package alongside road” Great spot news example. Good detail “Georgetown man put to death for murder” Descriptive. Reader is put at the scene.

4. Uvalde Leader-News — “Truck mishap deals setback to startup fire, rescue department” by Margaret Palermo. Narrative form was great. The story behind the story was well done. Historical information was good to include. “Parents oppose busing students from Batesville” by Andrea Gonzalez. Important issue to follow, though some of the parental concerns should have been higher in the story.

Division 5 Small Semiweeklies

1. The Highlander, Marble Falls — “Murder suspect nabbed: Sought in six killings, manhunt ends in New York” by Fred Afflerbach. Great detail in story of cross country chase for fugitive. Writer did a great job with multiple police agencies. “Jury sends message: 50 years” by George Hatt. Great detail in trial story. Background was plentiful for anyone who may not have followed the case from the beginning.

2. San Benito News — by Michael Rodriguez. “Dolly Vinsant employees have a message for administrators: ‘We want our money’” Good leads. Right to the point. Good story flow with plenty of detail. “Bizarre — PD: Teen fabricated kidnapping” Unusual story for certain, but coverage was well done.

3. Breckenridge American — by Don Treul. “Texas Railroad Commission investing benzene spill” Good example of enterprise story. Simple incident lead to larger investigation to get to root of problem. “SMH Construction complete” Quote as a lead typically isn’t a good idea but it works with follow up graphs.

4. The Bowie News — by Barbara Green. “Dissent lead to VFD split” While you had to get a couple of paragraphs in to get an idea what was happening, story’s details made up for slow-move lead. “Threatening calls lead to arrest — Virginia Tech murders bring caution, tension to college campuses” Great spot news tie-in with Virginia Tech incident. Story had good detail.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post — by Terry Collier. “Gillespie welcomes Lady Bird home” Excellent coverage. Writing solid, use of quotes really supported and painted a vivid picture. “Body discovered Monday as fire destroys house” Lead really grabs reader. Locked-in presentation of facts was great.

2. Nueces County Record Star — “School officer stripped of position: District also suspends three other employees” by Jeff Tucker. Very fair showing of both sides. Had all information needed. “Faulty readings cost customers: Worker responsible for errors dismissed” by Tim Olmeda. Straight-forward explanation of mishap clear and solid writing.

3. Azle News — “Friends save teen after diving mishap” by Edwin Newton. Clear solid writing. Excellent use of quotes to support what happened. “From fact to fiction: Teen drinking in Azle could make ‘Shattered dreams’ cold reality” by Gail Gilmore. Lead draws reader in. Powerful use of statistics and pull quotes.

4. Burleson County Tribune — by Roy Sanders. “Edwards laid to rest with military honors — County’s first Iraq war casualty brought home” Really well done. Story and use of quotes pulls at reader, keeps them locked in. “Tornado hits Snook-Tunis area, damages trees, barns” Extent of damage dragged on a bit but incorporating weather updates was great.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. The Big Bend Sentinel — “Questions raised after burros killed at Big Bend State Park” by Sterry Butcher and “Presidio border fence included in latest Homeland Security plans” by Megan Wilde. Both of these stories seem to uncover real surprises. Both were very interesting and the writers dug deep.

2. The Smithville Times — by Mark Gwin. “Sheriff, commissioner indicted: Hernandez, Goertz accused of misusing county funds and inmate labor for personal gain” Good coverage of this event. “Truck drives into La Cabana” This story stands out especially because of the interviews with the people at the Cabana. Nice on-the-scene reporting.

3. Cleveland Advocate — by Vanesa Brashier. “Police disappointed by verdict in Cannon case” and “Officer’s call for help ignored by dispatcher: Investigation of police department reveals that fired dispatcher was negligent in her duties” This was a very revealing story and was told well, especially the detail about the dispatcher talking to her husband on the phone about their son whistling. I’ll remember that detail.

4. Medina Valley Times — “Growth of Texas: Improvements since 1990s strengthen control on growth” by William Alonso. The writing in this story is particularly strong and pulls the reader in. “Crane flying out of Hondo” by Jesse Blanchard.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. Rockwall County News — by Tereasa Nims. “Officials say Heath teen’s death a sad wake-up call” A captivating story that really pulled the reader through. “To stop a predator: Parental awareness key to better online safety” The story did a good job of using a personal tale to tell a much wider ranging story.

2. Refugio County Press — by Kenda Nelson. “Good Samaritan saves man from blazing inferno” A neat story of a very brave individual. Well told. “Undercover drug operation nets 47 indictments, 28 suspects” The writer did a good job digging for this story. The perspective of the undercover officer was intriguing.

3. Muenster Enterprise — by Janet Felderhoff. “Hartl completes father’s pilgrimage” A nice feature story, a little wordy but very nice. “Downpour deals destruction in eastern Cooke County” The writer did a nice job getting different subjects input for the story. It was much enhanced by the perspectives offered.

4. The Springtown Epigraph — “Firefighter dismissed: Lamb off Springtown VFD after 20 years” by Carolea Hassard. The writer did a solid job looking behind the scenes at what could have been dismissed as a normal termination. “Access denied: New SMS gym can’t open as city, SISD feud over water line” by Edwin Newton. The writer did a good job fleshing out the story and making a somewhat complex issue easy to understand and follow.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. The Gladewater Mirror — by Brenda Brown. “Beware of owner: DA sending puppy mill operator to mental hospital” Good documentation of the latest rash of abuse. “Mayor ticketed for fire” Great job. You went to great lengths to document this story. Great courage, too.

2. The Clarendon Enterprise — by Roger Estlack. “Local pumpkins going to market” Good feature/news focus on a local market. “Student recants rape story” Super news story, good research.

3. Desoto Today — by Daphne Brown. “Gunfire prompts Lions to change rental policy” Good look at a troubling — and dangerous — problem. “Frances case to proceed in juvenile court:  Judge rules; police disappointed” Good work looking at reaction to a judicial decision.

4. West Kerr Current — by Clint Schroeder. “Hunt ISD to build high school” Good local angle and value. “Skateboard ‘speed wobble’ played role in son’s death, dad says” Good in depth look at an unknown problem.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. East Bernard Express — by Benjamin C. Sharp. “Good Samaritans: Hlavinka employees rescue motorists from burning truck” Great lead, good story. Really expanded this news story into something neater! Well done. “Subway robber left empty-handed: Clerk locks self in back office, calls 9-1-1” Again, strong lead and well-written. I only wish the author could have secured some comments from the employee.

2. The International, Presidio — by Megan Wilde. “Border fence could be built near Presidio port of entry” Obviously a big deal in your part of the country — something that could affect the entire U.S. Good story, well-written. “Texas-Mexico border residents say no to barrier” I like the follow-up a little better because you get a personal sense of the barrier’s affect. Good job.

3. Century News, Dripping Springs — by Murlin Evans. “Coyotes, feral hogs and wild dogs, oh my” Good story; well organized. The lead could be stronger though. “County responders get a little help from above” Well-written. Lots of detail. Nice job.

4. Anna-Melissa Tribune — by Jeremy A. Corley. “Anna to vote on alcohol again” Needs a stronger lead. The subject is good; story well organized but the story could use some tweaking. Nice overall. “Anna stays wet: Continued liquor sales win in landslide” Nice follow-up to original story. Again, could have used a better, tighter lead.