2006 Better Newspaper Contest — Column 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

Column Writing

Division 2 Dailies 7,000 to 99,999

1. The Paris News - By Phillip Hamilton. "Oh we got trouble with a capital T" Great use of music man wording. "Hollingsworth steps into the ring again" Lead pulls reader in.

2. The Facts, Clute - By Michael Morris. "The hits of yesterday and today" Puts perspective on a serious problem. Great read. "You can't be serious" Great humorous look at year that wasn't.

3. The Facts, Clute - By Yvonne Mintz. "Competition wins lasting knowledge" Good lead and transition, light and entertaining. "Open records laws ensure government by the people" Makes her point in an entertaining way.

4. The Galveston County Daily News - By Dolph Tillotson. "We'll keep investigating power program" Helps explain complicated topic - and defends his staff's efforts. Some examples of errors would help. "Society should encourage relationships" Not afraid to tackle an unpopular idea. Flows well and makes his point.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1. Waxahachie Daily Light - By Sandra McIntosh. "A story that touched my life" Perfectly captured the emotion of getting close to a story and allowing the humanity of reporting to shine through. Quite moving. "I think my car is possessed" Funny stuff! The two columns clearly show this writer's range.

2. Brownwood Bulletin - By Candace Cooksey Fulton. "Things that matter most - a mother's birthday, a pie in the face" and "Sometimes the best things happen when you're not looking" Both of these are enjoyable, friendly slice of life pieces, the kind of reading one loves to have while sitting on the front porch, sipping sweet tea. Nice job!

3. Alice Echo-News Journal - By Nicole D. Perez. "Help create miracles" Wonderful personal appeal for a very good cause. Beautiful how you were willing to share your personal story. "We must do more to protect our children from predators" Tough, uncompromising, chocked full of good information. Well done!

4. Taylor Daily Press - By Mike Eddleman. "The ease in spending other people's money" and "Marvel at the stories veterans have to tell" Good solid column writing.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1. Boerne Star & Recorder - By Elena Tucker. "Trial and tribulations living with an uncommon lyricist" I love it! This one had me chuckling so much it disturbed another judge sitting nearby. Well done (and thanks for NEVER allowing me to hear "Party Times Love" again without laughing!) "Writer's unemployment not as easy as it sounds" Hire this woman! Again, I chuckled throughout (and I love the way she calls her husband The Breadwinner, in capitals.)

2. Wharton Journal-Spectator - By Ronald K. Sanders. "After the last good-bye is said" Moving piece. Says a lot and says it beautifully with an economy of words. Made me want to call my mother and tell her that I lover her. "College charting course for future" Again, says a lot and says it well in a few words. This is an excellent example of how a writer doesn't have to go on for hundreds of lines to drive home an important point. Well done!

3. Burleson Star - By Darlene Moore. "Why is there an echo in the house" Charming column. I love how the grandchildren piece ties it all up at the end. I smiled a lot through this one. "Lonely vigil ended for pit bull/Labrador named Field" What a sad column! The headline hinted at what I was about to read, but I found myself unprepared to get somehow attached to Field, and feel a sense of loss by column's end. Nicely crafted.

4. Williamson County Sun - By Amy Burroughs. "Phone rang off the hook in newsroom" Like a short glass of water, this was quick, crisp and refreshing. "A few events of note" I like this little corner of the page! Not a lot of words, but the writer really does capture moments in the life of her town beautifully!

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1. The Monitor, Mabank - By Katherine Veno. "Maternal miss" and "Class of 1965" What a heartfelt column! Writer took a risk here in her honesty.

2. Andrews County News - By Sherilyn Brown. "Musings of a modern mom 1&2" I like the tone of these columns - humorous, a little self-deprecating, conversational. What a local column should be!

3. Mansfield News-Mirror - By Amanda Rogers. "Being Texan: It's a state of mind" and "Time to get to work on the holidays" I sense this columnist could (and should) expand beyond her life and family to broad, community topics and would be very good at it.

4. Quanah Tribune-Chief - By Carol Ann Whitmire. "Turkey, dressing and ... green bean casserole?" and "Multi-tasking on all but the task at hand" These columns have a lot of personality. They're too long, though! Self edit, use just the best stuff.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Rockdale Reporter - By Mike Brown. "Turning 55 on the way to 'middle age'" Just a very comfortable read. Great storyteller. "Hey Austin! Lexington's a wonderful place" This was great because it's so true. Your topic and style of writing is very engaging.

2. Coppell Citizens Advocate - By Jean Murph. "$50,000 for temporary trailer fix" Good writing for a convoluted subject. "Through your brown eyes" Gosh. Darn. Dang. I miss this dog too! Excellent writing. I swear I had tears in my eyes reading this.

3. Houston Business Journal - By Bill Schadewald. "Please try to quit, but be sure to buy more" Love the ending, especially "Friends don't ask fat kids to parties..." line. You make a very good point. "Schools of fish swimming with smarts" You obviously have a great grasp on the English language and manipulating it into a fine little package. However, I think you might lose the "common" reader at times.

4. Park Cities People, Dallas - By Paige Phelps. "Www.WakeUpMom&Dad.com" Interesting subject, kept my attention, very clear concise writing. Nice ending. "A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do" Obviously Paige is a good writer.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. The Countywide, Karnes City - By Pamela Baker. "Conversations with a 3-year-old" Fun to read. Both column entries deal with universal topics. Also, one of few entries that didn't jump, making both columns easy to read. "Fancy restaurant" Column conveys both humor and good storytelling. Good metaphor usage.

2. Pittsburg Gazette - By Susan Taft. "Park is a community effort; it's time to be heard" Makes a good case for community involvement of a beautiful project. Uses many descriptive words, providing good imagery. "Missing a good friend" Very emotional column. This is something many people face - falling out of touch with old friends. Resolution communicated very well.

3. Mount Vernon Optic-Herald - By Pat Wright. "Little white lies" Columnist is very descriptive in explaining what it feels like to rediscover her passion for flying. I felt like I was in the cockpit. "How to handle media" Very important subject. Great connections to needs for openness to local community. Jump not "too" difficult to follow.

4. Mineola Monitor - By Gary A. Edwards. "Back in jail and thankful" Liked the use of quotes to turn column into a narrative. Good columns tell stories and deflect attention from the writer. "Thwack!" Clear, concise and easy to read.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. West Austin News - By Forrest Preece & Tudey Teten. "Westside stories" Great lead. Nice job. "John S. Burns" Nicely written, great content. A meaty column.

2. Rockwall County News - By Jessie Progar. "Why I chose to serve" and "Murder I wrote" No comments.

3. Lancaster Today - By Steve Snyder. "Phillip Morris killed my dad" and "Spring in north Texas is something to be sneezed at" No comments.

4. Pilot Point Post-Signal - By Richard Greene. "Obesity problem for us all" Important issue. Nicely done. "At life's end" Well written, personal. Good job!

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. The Canadian Record - By Laurie Ezzell Brown. "I wasn't thinking of Didion's words" I was about to give up on this writing category until I came across these gems at the bottom of my stack. Excellent writing! Great command of the language. Intelligent without being haughty. You've expressed what so many of us feel about home - the leaving and the returning. "We know, without thinking" I began to care about these children you wrote about so eloquently. Your can't ask more from your writing than that. You elicited emotion without being sappy or falsely sympathetic. Excellent! One request - give your columns a headline and identify the author, perhaps her picture included!

2. The Canadian Record - By Bob Rogers. "Where's the wooly worm?" and "Entertainment and information" Good columns, great colorful language, love your conversational style - funny without being silly. I enjoyed reading about the critters and would have loved to see the chaos when the guineas went wild! Comments apply to both.

3. McGregor Mirror - By Charles Mooney. "Summertime" How old are these children? Nice style, personal, warm. Give each column a headline - it helps draw the reader in. I would urge you to identify the columnist. Editor? Publisher? Reporter? Newspaper subscriber?  A photo would help, too, letting readers feel like they know you. "Hunted" Needs a little clean up editing but overall it's quite good. You paint a nice picture and a more personal "outdoors" column than one would expect.

4. McGregor Mirror - By Bonnie Mullens. "A different kind of hunting" Who is Jimmy? Ah, now I see he's the husband - use that on first reference - "I accuse my husband Jimmy..." OK, who is Nynette? You refer to garage sellers when garage buyers are who you're talking about. Nice style - easy to read - but I think you needed to move some paragraphs around for better flow. "A few of Max's favorite things" I know we're all family here but PLEASE identify these people! I assume your goal is to pick up new readers - if they pick up your paper today, will they have a clue who you, Jimmy or Meghan are? They didn't see Max's photo before either! Why not include one here? It would certainly personalize this column. The underwear thing is just a tad too personal. Better form would be to express this affinity for "lingerie" and leave it at that. Identify this person in the column under her name or at the end of the column - editor, owner, reporter, guest columnist?

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. Burnet County Citizens Gazette - By Melodie Bradbury. "You know what I mean - the thingymado" One of the best examples of - you know what I mean - kind of writing that I read. "Yes son it's true, life is not fair" She is right. Life is not fair. But she attacks the unfairness with humor and style. Well done.

2. Burnet County Citizens Gazette - By Rick Espitia. "I must like cornflakes because I have four boxes" The writer got in, made his point, and got out. "Seems you could tell you had a nail in your head" Nice work. Everyone can appreciate a little humor writing.

3. The Morton Tribune - By Melinda Gandy. "Pass the puppy chow, please ..." Lots of newspapers have a "mom" column. This is one of the better ones. "You're acting just like a GIRL" Really nice work, mom.

4. The Albany News - By Pat Lidia Jones. "Happy inauguration" and "Terry Schiavo" Very good, thought provoking, sensitive job of writing about the death of a child. This one was good.