2006 Better Newspaper Contest — General Excellence


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

General Excellence

View Winners' Slideshow

Division 1 Dailies 100,000 or more

1. Houston Chronicle - A textbook lesson in solid, clear headline writing. Arresting images and topics draw me into A-1, although the heavy typefaces can be assaulting. The BP refinery story is an excellent example of a story written clearly and compellingly, but not overwritten or too long. The decision to provide the individual profiles was a good one. Amazing photo reproduction on Travel pages. Very good infographics on bridge story.

2. Austin American-Statesman - Concerned about so much wire on business page of one Sunday edition (other one has good staff stories). Heds largely good, but a few left me scratching my head, especially "Heckle and Chide" - had no idea what that story was about. Texas 130 story was very good, but perhaps should have been "chunked." It's a lot to digest in one read. "Rattlesnake Lady" and the Rio Nickalas stories were well done.

3. Fort Worth Star-Telegram - Headlines sub often make me go to the kicker or deck for meaning. Few of the photos demanded my attention. Graphic on the murder story helped sort out somewhat confusing narrative in story. I liked the lead on the cut-down version of the officer's funeral story more than the longer version. Fadel's report from Baghdad is arresting. The heavy zoning does provide a good variety of coverage.

Division 2 Dailies 7,000 to 99,999

1. The Beaumont Enterprise - A strongly local focus presented in such a way that the designers and editors deserve their names on the front page. The "Remember the Alamo" design leaps off the page, and the simple and nice touches (such as the "Gitmo debate" on the June 5 editorial page) make it easy for readers to navigate and enjoy the paper.

2. The Galveston County Daily News - Strong coverage of major news makes this newspaper a winner. The combination of the "big picture" story, the "what it means to me" coverage, and excellent use of pull-out info boxes was particularly strong for the BP coverage. The art was strong and mostly well played. The design throughout the paper is first-rate.

3. The Facts, Clute - The special section brought the world home to Clute, and the editor's column on the topic was helpful. The sports section is particularly strong, and the headlines popped when compared to other competitors.

4. Kerrville Daily Times - Huge amount of local coverage  displayed in a big-city style. Compared to similar-sized newspapers in similar-sized areas, the design and lively editorial page helped it stand out above others.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1. Waxahachie Daily Light - Good government coverage and details on the Ellis County Justice Center are a great reader service (11/13). But how did the justice center get so screwed up? Bad architectural plans? Contractor malfeasance? And why wasn't there better oversight in the planning and building process? Who is responsible? And have they been jailed or voted out of office? Impressive sports coverage and photos. Justice Center photos are interesting but inappropriate for a lifestyle front. Double jumps are reader obstacles and should be eliminated. Ride-along & Chick-Fil-A stories could have been cut (and made more compelling in the process). Inside art then could have been larger, eliminating gray pages. Very inspiring story about the Red Cross volunteer. You had an opportunity to write a compelling feature lead (appropriate because the award was more than a week old). The straight news lead was a disservice to the reader, who might have skipped a good tale because of it. Nice lifestyle front on 7/3! Good photos and inspiring story, though I think the overall piece could have been trimmed and the inside photos reduced in size. You had lots of local features on A1 (packed in tight). Why didn't you move one to the Lifestyle front and use extra photos inside? Overall, nice graphics and photography. I like the way this paper covers its community and capsulized the debate over the future of the Justice Center. I think the editors and staff have a good grasp of what people want to read in a community newspaper.

2. Alice Echo-News Journal - Excellent tornado coverage. Good, solid writing and compelling photos. I was pleased to see the story inside on the warning system. Good community service! On 11/13, why were veterans' stories not packaged together? Servando Lopez sounds like an interesting character. Would his profile have been more compelling (with a sidebar on the burial association)? I don't know whether you've written about him in the past, so it's difficult to judge. On sports page, the Seera Garcia story sounds like it has promise but the "courage" theme is not developed. Why are there not comments from her or her parents? Overall, the staff did an excellent job of covering breaking news, and you have some courageous photographers! I recommend that you work on your front-page design.

3. Taylor Daily Press - Amazing fire photo on 10/26. Solid reporting and good context on industrial fire story - no previous incident other than a small grass fire. Interesting detail on men using pressure washer to protect property. A1 design could be improved by packaging related stories and placing more emphasis on building the pages around a dominant photo.

4. Stephenville Empire-Tribune - Very clean and readable design. I think the writing could be improved - more sources in stories, more analytical look at the local college and local officials.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1. Wise County Messenger - Loved the "Faces of Halloween" as a nontraditional centerpiece. Cute photos, good headlines and clean, yet attention grabbing layout. A standout! The "Stories we Remember" also is a great example of an alternative to the "usual" way newspapers do things. It's clear this is a paper that isn't afraid to take chances and try new things. Outstanding effort all around. Liked the sports front with the great volleyball photo! The best in the category by far.

2. Round Rock Leader - Some clever headlines - "Picking' Grinnin' and Rockin'" and "Can you dig it? Fossil fans focus on festival." Good use of photos and cutouts. Solid writing. The story mix is generally good. A standout in the category.

3. Hood County News - Photos appropriately played. Fairly clean layout. The lifestyles section is a standout. Liked the wild art "state champs" centerpiece refer.

4. Williamson County Sun - Clean layout and colorful County Life section are nice, but overall an average paper. The writing seems clean, but not particularly compelling. The photos generally work well, though. Good enough for fourth place in an overall mediocre category.

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1. Mansfield News-Mirror - This is the clear winner - it lives up to its slogan "local people - local news." This newspaper covers its community and puts some resources to that task. It shows from front to back. Photo reproduction could use some help.

2. The Canyon News - This newspaper knows how to showcase its good staff and cover what needs to be covered. It has a flair from headlines to design to knowing how to find stories of interest.

3. The Monitor, Mabank - This newspaper has the feel of one that aggressively covers its community. It's well designed and organized.

4. The Wimberley View - The Wimberley View is a good window on Wimberley. It has a strong sense of place and gives readers the news they need.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Park Cities People, Dallas - This paper has it all - outstanding news coverage, sports, society and opinion pages. News focuses on topics that have an impact on the readers' lives. Society page layouts leaped out at me. This staff obviously has a good grip on the community it covers.

2. Rockdale Reporter - Outstanding news coverage, especially the pieces on the dog attack. Nice layout, overall package.

3. Azle News - Great overall coverage, photos. Outstanding sports coverage. Leads could be punched up a bit.

4. The Jasper Newsboy - Great community coverage!

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. The Community News, Aledo - This strong entry was sitting at the bottom of my pile, yet it still stood out as the best as I thumbed through the entries. Superior photography makes this newspaper a winner. Stories were well written and I loved the display headlines. Effective use of rules minimizes effect of colliding art. Great job of covering more than just football-basketball-baseball.

2. Westlake Picayune, Austin - Tough choice between 1st and 2nd. Great sports coverage, especially the box score page. Stories were well-written. Good headline balance. Effective front-page teasers. Only thing needed were rules and/or boxes to separate front-page story elements and columns of text. Otherwise, a strong tabloid entry.

3. Lake Travis View, Lakeway - I loved the Sunshine Week investigation. It's rare to follow a story that jumps, but I read this one from start to finish. Wonderful sports coverage. Photos good, especially in Oct. 6 edition. Better front page art needed for March 17 edition.

4. The Cameron Herald - Attractive front page design with good teasers. Great fire photos. Solid reporting, writing and editing. Front page and inside pages need dominant headlines to help determine lead stories.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. Cedar Hill Today - Stories, layout, columns show a hip sense of humor. Fun to read. Great photos.

2. The Springtown Epigraph - Great photos, interesting layout and movie reviews - all in one issue. Springtown has an excellent newspaper for themselves. The community must be very happy to be so well represented.

3. Frisco Enterprise - If I got the Enterprise in my mailbox or on the news rack at 50 cents per week, I would be a happy camper. What a great newspaper. Feels more like a daily than a weekly - great coverage of the community.

4. West Austin News - Open pages, easy to read. Gorgeous, fully-structured stories.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. Rowlett Lakeshore Times - Nice, tight, clean writing with broad-based community coverage allowing reader to have the information they need to know. Smart, sophisticated layout makes it easy for readers to find what they need. Good job!

2. The Citizen, Clear Lake - A nice clean looking newspaper with good inside coverage. This newspaper has devoted some resources to getting good coverage.

3. Pflugerville Pflag - Good local coverage, some nice news-feature packages with art, inside clean.

4. The Canadian Record - Excellent front page. If the planning and design for this were carried inside the paper would have been judged higher. Lots of good local coverage.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. Alvarado Star - Love all the things you are doing with this black and white newspaper. Good writing and creativity.

2. East Bernard Express - This paper looks really good. You have a vibrant editorial page and nice clean design. Like how you weren't afraid to put boring council story inside so you could feature on veterans.

3. The Clarendon Enterprise - The front page, and its centerpieces, is very pleasing. Good writing and use of photos and graphics.

4. Crowley Star - This paper is very reader friendly. Great use of dominant photos.