2000 Better Newspaper Contest — Feature Story

Division 2, Dailies 7,000 to 99,999
1.    The Galveston County Daily News – Writer Micheal A. Smith. “A generation of soldiers” Great heads! Great subject! Lead drew reader in from the start. Looks like you studied subject really well. Wonderful work! “New year’s blast” Awesome! Clearly the winner! From front page photo to design to great leads — great writing and every bit of information possibly available to reader — you’ve done it all. Terrific job!
2.    The Beaumont Enterprise — Writers Adam Welsh and Chris Gulstad. “We have no control” From beginning to end, very talented writing. The descriptive writing makes reader see the subject without even seeing a photo. Keep up the good work. “The downward spiral” Wow! What a terrific story. Great, descriptive lead. I couldn’t put it down till I finished reading all of it. Your writing makes the reader feel and see the whole “downward spiral.” Super job!
3.    The Herald-Coaster, Rosenberg — Writer Denise Adams. “Prisoners in their own homes” Really liked the heads. Makes readers think. Brought the story to light in a way to inform and “sensitize” readers to this disease. I commend you on a wonderful job! “The road to recovery” Very talented writing weaved into a strong story. The lead instantly draws reader in. Wonderful job of taking something so sensitive and personal and presenting it in a way to inform (and encourage) readers! Super job.
4.    New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung — Writers Betty Taylor and Heather Todd. “Pokemon, I choose you” The colored headline is clever. You covered the subject in its entirety with a clever layout. Nice work! “Living with AIDS” Your lead was terrific. Took the reader into the spiral downfall of the subject. Easy reading and capturing at the same time. Good job!

Division 3, Dailies Less Than 7,000
1.    Athens Daily Review — Writers Elise Mullinix and Heather Stanley. “Taking flight” Great layout. Writing smooth and easy to read. Very motivating and inspiring ending. Great work. “Death takes no holiday” The headline immediately caught my attention. Layout very appealing. You’ve taken a sensitive subject and turned it into an article “excellently” written. Also like the “myths” and fact boxes — well researched. Super job! Congratulations.
2.    Hereford Brand — Writer Becky Thorn. Almost a tie for first place. Great stories and writing. “You have mail” Eye-catching headline and great layout. You’ve taken a popular subject and made it very real and personal. Excellent writing. Good quotes. Keep up the good work. “Sketches” Great lead. Wonderful layout. Very eye-catching. Your writing ability shows through. You’ve taken a somewhat common subject and turned it into a top story.
3.    Waxahachie Daily Light — Writers Jennifer Chamberlain and Neal White. “Fighting for her life” Very good lead. Really pulls the reader in. Really brought the story to heart. The ending was positive — inspirational. Good job. “The long journey home” Super story. Captivating writing. Well done. I couldn’t stop reading once I’d started. Keep up the good work! Your writing is motivating.
4.    The Terrell Tribune — Writer Alison Walker. “Transversing Troubled Times” Great head! Wonderful subject matter — lots of depth. Inspirational. Liked the quotes you used. Story couldn’t help but capture attention; you made it personal. Only drawback was term “Brewster said” was overused. Might highlight the term to see overuse and try different wording or can simply be left out. “Finding peace far from home” Another good topic. You have a talent for getting to the heart of the matter. This story made the hardships real. Might want to substitute much used terms like “Leli said” for alternative wording.

Division 4, Semiweeklies 4,001 or More
1.    Hood County News — Writer Kathy Smith. “Loyalty at sea” This is a great presentation that puts the reader there. The transitions help the flow of the writing and lead the reader through the text. In the end, the reader is left with wanting more. “A call to action” Great layout and design combined with good writing. It offers the reader information he/she can use.
2.    Willimason County Sun — Writers Christina Smith and Linda Latham Welch. “It’s been a good year for Jarrell” Good presentation and lead. “Survivor bears scars from ultimate losses” Good writing that brings an awareness of domestic violence to the readers’ attention. Good presentation and photos.
3.    Wise County Messenger — Writers Scott Mahon and Mitch Word. “A time to heal” Good presentation. The reader gets a look at a family pair and a community’s response. “Facing a new life” Great layout and design. Good lead puts the reader (in the story’s) place.
4.    The Garland News — Writer Todd Boyd. “The Joneses” Good presentation and lead. The story and photo make a nice package. “Fiddlin’ square off” Good writing and layout. Mixing the oldest community music into the story gives it depth.

Division 5, Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less
1.    The Canyon News — Writer Karla Abernethy-Thetford. “The love bug hits on Valentine’s Day” This is a very nice story. Well written, nice flow, interesting, easy to read. But, I wanted to hear more about the cancer battle, surgeries. Still a well-written piece. “ 100 years of 1900” This, too, was an outstanding effort about a nice little old lady. You can tell the writer really put a lot into this interview. Just a little quirk, I would have switched the last two paragraphs around, flip flop. Nice job!
2.    Rockwall Texas Success — Writers Julie Evans and Brett Tulloss. “Celebrating life” This is a nice story about two friends working together. However, this doesn’t have a lot of impact expected from a front-page feature. That’s not to say it wasn’t well written. It was. “Dead solid perfect” This is the homerun hitter of your two entries. What an interesting story about a man not bound by any limitation. Although it’s a sports feature, it is a potential front-pager! Excellent job!
3.    The Angleton Times — Writer Karin Bergstrasser. “Colonial celebration” This story is a little hard to follow. It may have been stronger if the writer broke these characters out into separate stories or rather pick your best and go with it. I do like the photo and layout work done. “Miraculous recovery” This is an excellent look at a horrifying situation. The writer did a nice job keeping the reader’s interest and it reads rather smoothly. Thumbs up. One criticism, front and inside photos are too similar.
4.    The Bowie News — Writer Barbara Beckwith. “Bonnie a Western Renaissance Woman” This is an excellent look at a local woman who has had an intriguing life. The writer did a good job telling her story, and showing the readers how much this woman loves what she does. Very nice. “B.H. to the rescue” This story did an outstanding job of telling readers something they probably didn’t know or even considered. Too bad the pooch can’t talk. Not a lot of detail, but very interesting.

Division 6, Weeklies 3,001 or More
1.    The Examiner, Navasota — Writers April Towery and Tom Turner. “70 Valentine’s Days” Very well done on interesting subject. Color pictures added a great deal. “Christmas miracle” Interesting story, very well done! Good job!
2.    Duncanville Today — Writers Kristi Crooks and Robin Gooch. “Amazing Grace” Nice picture and good lead! Good feature on common subject! “A degree of perseverance” Very well done and good expression in picture. Color adds to story!
3.    River Cities Tribune, Marble Falls — Writer Daniel Clifton. “Frisberg shows relevance of classics” Story probably well overdue! “LRC Rangers protect, serve and rescue” Subheads might help break up white space. Good choice of pictures. Interesting reading!
4.    Park Cities People, Dallas — Writer Carolyn Tillery. “The scooter squad” Interesting story with a good picture. “A class for the homebound” Good leads and pictures! Nice job!

Division 7, Weeklies 2,001 to 3,000
1.    The Community News, Aledo — Writers Margaret Wintersole and Christopher Amos. “Cowboy poet” SUPER JOB! Layout, pictures and poems! “Celebration of citizenship” No comment.
2.    Big Bend Sentinel, Marfa — Writers Jacob Silverstein and Sterry Butcher. “Fort Davis man at work in Antarctica” Great local human interest. Nice job! Now box it or find a way to set it apart from rest of copy. “Soldiers return for border road project” Nice pictures. Nice layout. Good pictures and placement.
3.    Lancaster Today — Writers Kevin Bowen and Chuck Bloom. “Substitute filling” Nice job! “No ordinary Joe” Get the yellow out of photos with Photoshop.
4.    Clay County Leader — “Gee captures world title” Good lead-in. Catchy and holding. The writer did a nice job with the research. Photo is OK. Try putting rule line after jump heads. “Good Samaritan saved fireman from being crushed” No comment.

Division 8, Weeklies 1,201 to 2,000
1.    Lexington Leader — Writer Sheryl Miller. “Ancient artifacts” Super. Excellent. Bravo. “Homes refurbished” Well done. Top four entries very good but yours were the cream of a good crop.
2.    Lake Cities Sun, Lake Dallas — Writer Jason Roberts. “Kiln unearths county history” and “Fingerprints put their mark on music” Both are excellent stories.
3.    The Winters Enterprise — Writer Deb Pritchard. “Cancer survivor” Very good. Liked the quotes. “Dyslexia” Good. Example layout might have been better.
4.    The Albany News — Writers Melinda Lucas and Donnie Lucas. “Ellis instrumental in pilot rescues” and “Business keeps family close to cowboy lifestyle” These are both far above average but competition tough here.

Division 9, Weeklies 1,200 or Less
1.    Burnett County Citizens-Gazette — Writers Heidi Bender-Edwards and Rick Espita. “A man’s home is really a castle” This is an outstanding effort. The writer is in full control of the English language and doesn’t miss a beat in providing timely details that follow a reader’s progression of thought. Nice! “Riding the hogs, spreading the word” Another very good story, that’s well written and an interesting group of people. This story tops off a strong entry.
2.    The Clarendon Enterprise — Writer Roger Estlack. “Local man wins Lotto” This is one of the best efforts in the division. There’s not a lot of depth here, but it captures a moment that most just dream of. Good job. “Missing” This is a nice human-interest story. Good story line and subject, but I would have liked to see more focus on the boy. He’s really the story. However, decent job.
3.    The Hart Beat — Writer Cheryl Johnson. “It doesn’t have me” What this story lacks in structure, quotes and short paragraphs, it makes up for in impact. Though it is really a personal account of a family’s struggle, it’s a heart-tugger in an otherwise weak division. “Virginia Reed recalls 36 years as city secretary” This story has some interesting history and information, but sure would have liked to hear more from Virginia Reed.
4.    The Eldorado Success — Writer Randy Mankin. “Local gridiron heroes to play on Texas A&M All-star team” Though this story has a strong local interest, there’s not much you can do with a pre-game type story. Would be awesome to hear about their trip though. “Invention reflects Rick Singleton’s creativity” Not a bad effort. It gives hope to many potential inventors out there, but it lacks in impact. However, is a pretty straight-forward read.