2004 Better Newspaper Contest — Headline 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

Headline Writing

Division 2 Dailies 7,000 to 99,999

1st. Odessa American - "Thongs belong on feet not seat" And the feet/seat rhyme helps. "Burger King settles beef with woman for $35,000" 'Where's the beef?' A cliché, but it still works. "Aces in the hole" Grim humor good!

2nd. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal - "Itching to win, local man scratches off $177,000 prize" Itching/scratch works just right here. "Friendly fire: Police, reporter have field day with training" 'Have field day' good play on words. "Disgruntled Lubbock landlord slaps on new coat of controversy" Appropriate play on words. Paint = 'coat of controversy.'

3rd. The Beaumont Enterprise - "Pomp and extenuating circumstances" Appropriate play on title of famous march. "Karaoke lunches put ham on the menu" Oh yes, karaoke and ham go together! "Never mind the game plan ... what's the dental plan?" Chiming juxtaposition of 'game plan/dental plan' gives impact.

4th. Midland Reporter-Telegram - "Sharing the health: Midland doctor goes out of his way to share expertise" Weakest of the three, but it still works. "Area meat cutter slices into lottery cow" 'Meat cutter,' 'slices,' 'cow' - it all works! "Taxicab owners say EZ RIDER taking toll" 'Toll' play on words so appropriate here!

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1st. San Marcos Daily Record - "Storm winds rip, whip and flip" Very active and descriptive. "Privacy: Library not peeking between the book covers" Clever and original. "Sun to set on 'Southwest' Governor signals new dawn for Texas State University - San Marcos" Precise and original.

2nd. Plainview Daily Herald - "Older biker not drawing throngs with thongs" Right idea, a little overreaching. "Whether minnow or mackerel, pseudo fisherman flounders" Nice rhythm, clever. "Pickle, pepper packer picks Plainview" Very clever without distracting the story.

3rd. Alice Echo-News Journal - "Reign of Terry over ... for now: Tribunal upholds harassment charges" No comments. "No yolk, woman, 65, arrested for egging church" Inaccuracy on age is serious flaw. "Band on the run ... to state" No comments.

4th. Sweetwater Reporter - "Local athletes say left-handedness is all right" Clean, hits the mark. "The secrets to living the good life: Terminally ill patients share wisdom and love during last moments" Straightforward approach good. "Don't let the smoke ... er, dust ... get in your eyes" No comments.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1st. Beeville Bee-Picayune - "Loving llama goes berserk: Burt finds greener pastures despite loss of 'mate'" "Out of this world: Space shuttle crew includes former Bee resident Brown" "The day the music died in Beeville? CBC program cuts include arts departments" No comments.

2nd. Wise County Messenger - "Bay voters say 'You go girls'" "Injection wells leave bad taste for some Wise residents" "State puts squeeze on students' waistlines" No comments.

3rd. Wharton Journal-Spectator - "Chipping away at the courthouse: First batch of bricks emerge from stucco" "It's Whartonkosh, b'gosh" "Future of kids at steak: Burgers and beans support the dream at Boys and Girls Club" No comments.

4th. Williamson County Sun - "Catholic cemetery becomes a grave problem, neighbors insist" "Georgetown, Williamson officials chat and chew without you" "Between The Rock and a hard place: Sagging Eagles face crucial district opener after losses to sharp-toothed Tigers" No comments.

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1st. Lampasas Dispatch-Record - "Digging deep: Program offers detailed study of paleontology" Well, maybe not all that deep, but ... "See you later, alligator! Reptile released into the wild after its capture at a west Lampasas residence" Cliché farewell is just right for this story! "That #$&*#! FCC ruling" Punchy one column! Typo gibberish for 'F' word works well here!

2nd. The Brownfield News - "High dive board takes swan dive: Commissioners vote to remove public swimming diving board for liability reasons" All familiar catch phrases used to good advantage! "Trouble blows through Tumbleweed: Care center investigation continues" Same as above. "Sunday storm raises the roof" Same as above.

3rd. The Gatesville Messenger - "If man was meant to fly... Museum to celebrate 100th anniversary of flight" Dated phrase works well in this context. "A disturbing tail: Man accused of cutting off kitten's tail could go unpunished" An appropriate pun. "Everyone needs a hug: Gatesville woman provides lots of 'Care Bears'" This homely saying is a perfect fit for a Care Bears story.

4th. The Highlander, Marble Falls - "This yard is a cut above: National Wildlife Federation recognized Granite Shoals couple for Background Wildlife Habitat" Weakest of the three. "Room at the inn: Construction begins on Marriott Hotel and Conference Center" Play on a cliché works well here. "No littering" Perfect fun for this story and the paw graphic works!

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1st. The Jasper Newsboy - "Hell's fire at Heaven's gate: Historic First Baptist Church loses sanctuary to blaze" Nothing like Hellfire and glory in the same head. Good connection to the photo, clearly. "A cry heard 'round the world': From Iraqi post, Paratrooper dad coaches mom through labor, delivery" Wonderful, touching, compelling, if borrowed. "Hidden camera develops negative focus: Criminal investigation into employee time theft by city manager, fire marshal blows up" Wow! Three clever hooks in the same head. Nice job.

2nd. The Cameron Herald - "Studs not allowed under new CISD dress code" Double meanings are always a good way to grab attention. 'Studs' is pretty good way, too, by itself. "Fuming over gas prices" Yeah, we all are. "Persistent poultry feather value-filled show" Hum. I didn't get it. This head almost knocked you out of the running.

3rd. Duncanville Today - "Drop the top on ... that endless summer" Uh, huh. I get your drift. "Grill of his dreams: Restaurateur succeeds with area chain" No comments.  "Board flip flops on thong issue" Funniest head in the whole state of Texas, mostly because of the double (meanings). You guys seem to have sex on the brain down there in Duncanville or maybe it's just me.

4th. Hondo Anvil Herald - "State of Euphoria: D'Hanis earns first title shot since '95" Nice, exuberant, telegraphic. "The good, the bad & the fumbly: Owls' running game torches Uvalde; penalties, turnovers hamper effort" I get it fast, summarizes story well. "Hondo council to consider McWaiver at next meeting - Golden Arches too tall but city issued the permit" Subtly clever, thinking man's headline.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1st. The Pittsburg Gazette - "Where does the right of way end?" Where indeed? Gotta read this lede. "Pilgrim's Pride poultry pardoned by the president's proclamation to populace" Groan-er, but what the heck. It is about various turkeys. "The flu bug bites early" Quick, telegraphic, appropriately hackneyed.

2nd. Cleveland Advocate - "Artist creates brick wall, Hallmark window from metal siding" This one doesn't rank with the other two, but at least the first clause is strong. "Eight-liners about to be deep-sixed" Short, snappy, cheeky, smart, so long as you know what an eight-liner is. "Junks cars put on city's endangered species list" Good riddance to bad rubbish.

3rd. Tyler County Booster - "Heifer show beefs up buyers fund: Event helps prepare student for county fair" Something about heifers and beef is irresistible. "Feeling bugged lately? No love for swarming insects" Nice marry of head to photo. "Sweet rewards" Made me want to read the photo caption, which is the job of the headline.

4th. Colorado County Citizen - "Local boutique is a Bowie Street jewel" Not all that strong, but heads above most others in your category. "Rice cooks Gobblers in Cuero" Lucky break for the head writer to get Rice and Gobblers in same story. "Proper purse placement a priority" This one almost knocked you out of the running. How can you be average and still place fourth? Weak category for entries overall. You do better than many of your competing papers.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1st. Leader News, Lytle - "Turmoil at the top ends Shelton's tenure: Superintendent resigns her post" Alliteration of 'Ts' - deliberate or not - catches attention. "High-speed Internet slow in coming to Lytle area" Contrast of 'speed' with 'slow' works well here. "Lytle Council pours over future water options for the city" 'Pours' - 'water.' How pun-ny can you get?

2nd. San Jacinto News-Times, Shepherd - "Removal of constable from office unravels conspiracy theory against county judge: Hearing scheduled in Conroe Wednesday on suit alleging racketeering, corruption" "DA admits child pornography found on county judge's laptop: Who put it on computer and how it got there remains a mystery" "Suit filed to oust district attorney: Price files back with KKK allegations" No puns, no catch phrases, just the facts. Tells the story at a glance.

3rd. Ellis County Press - "New order in the court" Good twist on familiar phrase. "Sparks flyover illegal fire alarm system" Appropriate play on words here. "Dauben gets a rise out of Hancock" Headline and photo perfect match!

4th. Pearland Reporter-News - "A haunting we will go: Local ghost hunter finds Houston area full of 'life'" Play on words appropriate. Quotes around 'life' are a good gimmick. "Hard work goes into making Lazy Susans" Juxtaposition of 'work' and 'lazy' works well here. "Masterpiece on wheels: Local man's restored Vincent HRD gets world recognition" Succinct description catches attention.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1st. Friendswood Reporter-News - "NOT SO CLEAN GET-AWAY Man hides from police in bath tub" Very clever! "A 'swish' come true: Students help classmate make first-ever basket" Quite creative! "Patriotic 'Thumbs Up' Thousands on hand for City's 108th Fourth of July event" Big impact!

2nd. Lexington Leader - "Man shot in rear after caught trying to break in teenage girl's bedroom" Clever, creative and hilarious! "Tragic accident - husband takes life of new bride" Huge impact! "Can you hit this note?" Very original!

3rd. The Ozona Stockman - "Lions roar way to area playoffs" Very original! "Freshmen Lions savage Angoras" Very clever! "Lions deflea Bulldogs in second half comeback" Great creativity!

4th. The Leonard Graphic - "Oh what a boo-tiful feeling: Tigers bedevil Blue Ridge in Halloween thriller; set stage for one more feline showdown" Clever! "DWI law brings staggering fines: New law could bring more trials to county's already overloaded courts" Gets to the point! "Tigers catch Bells with Panthers down, 27-12" Creative, original, funny!

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1st. The International, Presidio - "PM PO'ed at BM in PO" Clever, original and funny! "A feud between neighbors: threats, guns and a dead dog" Huge impact/original! "Game over: School board votes to cancel football" Creative and clever!

2nd. Thorndale Champion - "New track equipment can't hurdle budget" Clever! "County gas prices skyrocket, fuel tempers" Very original and creative! "Smelly concerns: Skunk invasion causes health concerns" Clever, creative, original and funny!

3rd. The Eldorado Success - "Mourning after: Eldoradans struggle with tragic loss" Huge impact! "Thanks, a lot: Fuel tank filled with pot sends 7 to jail" Creative! "It's a wireless world" Clever!

4th. Burnet County Citizens Gazette - "Dawg-gone it! Bulldogs lose in state final" Creative! "Whoaa Nelly! Petition stalls plan for rodeo water investment" Clever! "Caught speeding - Meth labs cooking up trouble" Original, creative!