2011 Texas Better Newspaper Contest - Column Writing

Division 2
Dailies 7,000 to 99,999
1. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Ray Westbrook, subject 1, Woman’s Diaries: Great! Westerbrook writes what every community newspaper should have - telling and personal poetic stories of the people who formed the community. Impeccable. Subject 2, Montelongo: Another home run.
2. The Galveston County Daily News, Heber Taylor, subject 1, Charlie Wilson: great story and concisely told! Subject 2, Zarko Franks: I’m sure Zarko would have approved.
3. Victoria Advocate, April Brandon, subject 1, Baby Showers: Wow! A funny columnist who’s actually funny. Well done. Subject 2, Getting Married: no comment by judge.
4. The Beaumont Enterprise, Mike Smith, subject 1, Bridge cracks: Smith does what a good columnist should do, even when the subject is seemingly dull. Subject 2, Traffic Light: he makes it readable. “There are no bad stories - there are only bad writers.”

Division 3
Dailies Less Than 7,000
1. Waxahachie Daily Light, Neal White, subject 1, Facebook: Informative on what can be a technical topic, but handled in a breezy style. Very well done. Subject 2, Monument: Moving without being maudlin.
2. Brownwood Bulletin, Gene Deason, subject 1, Anniversaries: Excellent reminder. Subject 2, Toilets: We take clean water for granted. Thanks for a well-written, well-researched piece.
3. Stephenville Empire-Tribune, Sara Vanden Berge, subject 1, Shock & Awe: Wow! A grown-up! And well said! Subject 2, Tax Ballot: concise and balanced.
4. Athens Daily Review, Rich Flowers, subject 1, February: Great down-home voice and common sense. Subject 2, Dandy Don: Sports heroes mean a lot to a great many of us. Well said!

Division 4
Semiweeklies 4,001 or More
1. Uvalde Leader-News, Craig Garnett, subject 1, Grandparents Day: Very entertaining column. Writing is really fund to read. Subject 2, Holiday Cheer Fails to Save Vendor: Poor Kaspar! We passed this one around our newsroom and everyone who read it loved it! Great read and engaging writing.
2. The Boerne Star, Elena Tucker, subject 1, However Insignificant She Might Seem: I cried when I read this! Wonderful writing and a very sad tale. Great job engaging the reader. Top-notch work! Subject 2: Yearning to Yell, Having No Voice: Great writing. Again, engages the reader.
3. The Bay City Tribune, Heather Menzies, subject 1, Dinner Chat With Andrea White: Great column idea and well written. How fun to read about what the candidates are eating. Heather Menzies and Amanda Heard, subject 2, Bell Serves Up Gumbo and Fun: Fun read! Lead was a little weird, though, with “JCP pct. 1” stuck in the middle. Could have introduced her as Justice of the Peace Jeanette Bell and picked up with the politicking in the 2nd graph.
4. Wise County Messenger, Decatur, Brandon Evans, subject 1, We Need to Say Goodbye to High Speed Pursuits: Really nice writing, but in a couple of places, overwritten, e.g., “shared together on this tiny green and blue planet hurtling through empty space.” Subject 2, Listening to the Sun: Loved it! Loved the writing. Again, a tiny bit of over-writing. Expert word craftmanship.

Division 5
Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less
1. Kilgore News Herald, Linda K. Ballard, subject 1, In Memory Of: Very good and personal obit. Subject 2, It’s Gonna Be Fine: Graceful writing start to finish and very engaging topic.
2. The Monitor, Mabank, Katherine Veno, subject 1, Most Difficult of Goodbyes: A touching story, very graceful writing and a wonderful tribute to your mother. Subject 2, Learning to Coast: Lovely story rich with descriptions. I can see that red mud!
3. The Perryton Herald, Jim Hudson, subject 1, Water Votes: Very good explanation of a very complicated subject, water. Subject 2, Surprise Visit: What a fun read! Nice story, colorful writing and well crafted.
4. The Terrell Tribune, Michael Gresham, subject 1, Serve Up a Little Social Interaction: Silent lunchroom? What are they thinking? Very good topic and well written opinion piece. Subject 2, Making Tough Decisions: Great topic and a very good explainer on what has to be a very controversial issue.

Division 6
Large Weeklies
1.Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post, Terry Collier, subject 1, Road Trip With Charmin: Very entertaining and clever; flows great. Subject 2, Dealing With Being an Old Guy: Lots of funny examples from daily life, flows great.
2. Citizens’ Advocate, Coppell, Jean Murph, subject 1, Allowing One to Blossom: good advice. Subject 2, Try to Persevere: no comment by judge.
3. Mineola Monitor, Gary Edwards, subject 1, Cell Phones: We all feel this way. Subject 2, Politics and Thrones: He connects with readers.
4. Hays Free Press, Kyle/Buda, Brenda Stewart, subject 1, Because He’s Black: Ready for syndication. Subject 2, A Time for War: Gutsy.

Division 7
Medium-Large Weeklies
1. Westlake Picayune, Austin, Ed Allen, subject 1, Good Departing Writers an Editor’s Nightmare: Great lead, great style, taking the reader along the journey with you. Good writers can become great under the tutelage of a generous editor. Congrats on your former employee’s recognition. He surely learned well from you. Well written. Bravo! Subject 2, Battle With Obesity: Great lead. Instant comradery builder. Nice touch of humor. Humility in your writing raises quality & style of writing. Again - Bravo.
2. The Pittsburg Gazette, Roy Knox, subject 1, Well Worth the Wait: Excellent lead. Drew my attention immediately. I liked how you pointed out that kids need a good example. Very well written. The sudden topic change made me laugh. Great job. The switch to the pedicures was refreshing & engaging. Subject 2, Don’t Mess With Texas: Well written; a logically & well laid out opinion. The concluding bits of information are a unique approach to concluding the column. I think I like it! Great lead, great handing of a potential political bomb. Enjoyed the style of writing. Keep it up.
3. The Cameron Herald, Bill Crist, subject 1, Can Two Simple Words Really Sum It All Up?: Yes indeed! I appreciated the consideration Mr. Crist put into how these two words bring out the best and worst. Great, simple lead. Subject matter drew me in and hooked me. Thumbs up for subject matter, quality and style of writing. Subject 2, Bureaucratic Red Tape: Lead assumes familiarity with Harley, but quickly drawn into the story and caring about the issue. Presented in a well balanced manner. Well written.
4. The Goldthwaite Eagle, Tammarrah Pledger, subject 1: It’s All Her Idea: I enjoyed your writing. Keep it up. You have a unique, feminine voice that others in your community can look up to and follow your gentle example of how generations may be a real ray of sunshine to the other. Subject 2, Tammy’s Take on It: Your observations of southern Texan quirks is a lot of fun, expecially for the southerner. Personal enjoyment aside, the lead was intriguing. I wanted to see what you were celebrating. The style, light humor, is very nice. Great quality.

Division 8
Medium Weeklies
1. Eagle Lake Headlight, Cindy Klopsteck, subject 1, Black Cat: The story pulled me all the way through. Great read and good writing. Subject 2, Frances: Powerful writing and beautifully crafted, start to finish.
2. Bandera County Courier, Mike Baker, subject 1, Editor’s Note: Very fun to read. A little hard to follow with the initials but funny, good writing. Subject 2, Give Me Credit: Love it! Funny and well crafted from start to finish.
3. Iowa Park Leader, Kari Collins, subject 1, Garanimals: Very fun read. I like your humble humor and I’ll bet your readers enjoy it also. Subject 2, Habanero Jelly: Very engaging writing and fun to read. What a mean trick, though. I liked the colorful ramblings about the bee garb & Mrs. Johnson’s cooking. Well crafted, start to finish.
4. The Olney Enterprise, Mindi Kimbro, subject 1, Reading a Thing of the Past: Very good writing. A little preachy though. Subject 2, Cookies and Icing and Cakeballs Oh My: Very bright and lively writing and a fun column to read.

Division 9
Small-Medium Weeklies
1. The Hico News Review, Jerry McAdams, subject 1, Found Tractor: Delightful tale all the way through. I really enjoy your writing style. Subject 2, Stingy City Not Taking Out Ad: Very engaging. clear up here in Washington I feel like I am getting a glimpse of your town.
2. The Eldorado Success, Randy Mankin, subject 1, Ray Crazywolf: An engaging story with colorful writing about a colorful character. Subject 2, Caprock: Nice going along on your Texas road trip.
3. The Menard News and Messenger, Dan Feather, subject 1, Motorbike and Paper Route: Nice, readable tale. Fun to read. Subject 2, Television: A trip down memory lane. Another fun one.
4. Val Alstyne Leader, Rodney Hays, subject 1, State of the Union: no comment by judge. Subject 2, Olympics: Funny! Funny! Filled with little surprises, like running over the principal’s cat still not a sport.

Division 10
Small Weeklies
1. The Freer Press, Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., subject 1, Immune to Violence: An honest account of what a journalist faces after years on the job. Subject 2, Julianna: Powerful. Perfectly written.
2. The Anna-Melissa Tribune, Jeremy A. Corley, subject 1, World’s Greatest Dad: Same comment as with entry in Van Alstyne Leader - excellent. Subject 2, Fireworks and Football: Loved the part about your boys!
3. The Clarendon Enterprise, Roger Estlack, subject 1, Quran Burn Plan: well written. Subject 2, Mother’s Day: What a wonderful tribute to your mom.
4. Pflugerville Pflag, Chris Grant, subjects 1 and 2, When Do They Sleep? and The Big Four-O: Fun to read writing style.