2001 Better Newspaper Contest — Column Writing

Division 2, Dailies 7,000 to 99,999
1st. Doug Toney, New Branufels Herald-Zeitung — “Proposals for big changes” Solid insight into local government. Excellent. The type of explanation the public needs. “If PG means bigger bucks” Excellent.
2nd. Kelly Hawes, The Galveston County Daily News — “Scouts don’t know” Excellent writing. “Big change in the life of a child” Not bad. Columnists must stop writing about themselves.
3rd. Dolph Tillotson, The Galveston County Daily News — “Free speech is fundamental - warts and all” Good. We need to be reminded that free speech means standing up for ideas we don’t like. “Real problem is kids needing far too little” Good.
4th. Jim Robertson, McKinney Courier-Gazette — “There are many reasons to celebrate this Fourth” Nice. Too many people forget what freedom is. “Sometimes we can learn lessons from children” Okay.

Division 3, Dailies Less Than 7,000
1st. Richard Stone, Taylor Daily Press — “Taking civil liberties” Cogent and interesting — if a bit dense. I enjoyed this commentary on one of the most hackneyed topics there is. “Rocky Mountain vacation” Fun piece. Nicely written. I would have lied a graf telling where the piece was going.
2nd. Don McAlister, Taylor Daily Press — “Some things are just beyond understanding” Vivid recontextualization of a horrible story. “Finding horny toads in memory” Nice description and fun way of looking at the fate of these unique animals. Very personal.
3rd. Jackie Lawson, Waxahachie Daily Light — “Check your worries at the door” Interesting and (sic) written — not dwelling unduly on yourself but actually telling me something of a story. “The strength of family ties” I liked this piece a lot. You have a nice way with personal revelation — not so personal that I can’t identify.
4th. Richard Orr, Plainview Daily Herald — “Some dogs deserve to go to heaven” Very nice, a touching story told beautifully. “Efforts to legislate safety are trampling on freedom” Balanced and nicely told piece that has opinions, of course, but also a keen sense of the story behind them.

Division 4, Semiweeklies 4,001 or +
1st. Leland DeBusk, Hood County News — “Memorable wedding” Fantastic lead! This is the only entry that had me laughing out loud. Who was the lucky girl? Good column. “Never more. Never more.” Another really funny piece. Your timing and tone are on target.
2nd. Clark Thurmond, Williamson County Sun — “You’re on record — forever” Nice lead. Great job illustrating importance of maintaining a public record. Love graf that begins “we are all actors here ...” Fine writing. Your column gave this foreigner a good sense of your community. “Even skydiving gets older” Very funny, dry humor. Again, fine writing. Gutsy to announce your foray into LSD experimentation. Your tone is consistent through both pieces and is quite enjoyable. I suspect you have a strong and faithful readership.
3rd. Jerry Aulds, El Campo Leader News — “Truth would yield reduced sentence” Nice slice of parenting life, replete with good phrase turning and dry humor. “George and Floyd Zoching it to ‘em” What does a “bedpan king’s” crown look like? Your writing is really strong, without pretense and truly enjoyable. Brings to mind Mark Twain for brief moments. Great work.
4th. Roger Enlow, Hood County News — “Back to the beach” Very funny writing. I’m not sure your ever made a point, or intended to. But it’s a good read. “Gun-shy” Both pieces very witty. Newsroom conversations at the forum must be a hoot.

Division 5, Semiweeklies 4,000 or -
1st. Lynn Beck, Lamesa Press-Reporter — “Bird murder vengeance” Enjoyable elegant prose. Wry humor and a solid kicker at the end. “I wonder why...” Some great observations that connect with readers’ common experiences and another good punchline.
2nd. Micheal Boddy, The Angleton Times — “A few good intentions” The two long sentences followed by the short zingers is a nice technique not easy to pull off. “Protect, support the vets” New thoughts and twists on a subject well traveled make this a standout. It’s difficult to say this without getting into sentimental cliche but you nailed it.
3rd. Charles Wood, Gonzales Inquirer — “No good way to tell bad news” Very thoughtful and tactful way to inform readers about responsible journalism. “No tolerance for intolerance” Good lead. Makes the case for Gonzales’ sick without making an excuse. Well thought through.
4th. Matt Kelton, The Bowie News — “There’s more to the world than Bowie” Nice rhythm to the Morrison beat. Ties it altogether nicely from letter-to-editor to connection-to-place. “Landry death surprises all” Good lead paragraph and thoughts on Texas legend.

Division 6, Weeklies 3,001 or More
1st. Mary Judson, Port Aransas South Jetty — “Cell phone etiquette” This is the tightest, best-crafted writing of the bunch. Judson deals with cell phones with humor, while making a good case for her indignation at this technology’s intrusiveness. “P.E. should focus on fitness” Her case for focusing on fitness in P.E. instead of athleticism is persuasive and socially valuable. She’s one of the most efficient columnists I’ve ever read!
2nd. Len Bourland, Park Cities People — “Let’s make the best out of this practice of dying” Bourland is a lively writer with a good sense of humor who can make a serious point — as in her “dying” column — in an engaging way. “Men’s hairdos in the news: From Cowboys to Mavericks” I like the way — in her “hair” column — that she’s able to tie together otherwise loosely related subjects under the rubric of hair.
3rd. Willis Webb, The Jasper NewsBoy — “Some journalists are realistic optimists rather than cynics” and “For anyone to be free, all must taste elixir of freedom” Webb has a natural ease with writing and a willingness to engage in serious subjects in an appealing way. He’s perhaps a little wordy, but the words are pleasant to read.
4th. Ed Cherryholmes, The Buda Free Press — “Past vs. future, a tough choice” and “History and Knight’s fate” Cherryholmes’ writing may not have all the flash of columnists who finished ahead of him, but he is a highly capable, well-crafted writer able to tackle subjects with some heft. I particularly enjoy his fluency in history.

Division 7, Weeklies 2,001 to 3,000
1st. Rusty Mitchum, Lindale News & Times — “Interviews” Do the “G’s” really have to be dropped so often to get the folksy flavor across? “I remember when...” Familiar subject. Great examples!
2nd. Linda VanNess, Crowley Star — “On the road again” Consistently funny. “Learning a civics lesson - Crowley style” Great satirical “take” on a local problem.
3rd. Syble French, Pittsburg Gazette — “And where were you on election day?” Lively and timely! “I tell  you I’m still a nervous wreck” Same as above.
4th. Marc Robertson, Frio Nueces Current, Pearsall — “A View from the Bridge” Homely details of daily life are given new life by this writer.

Division 8, Weeklies 1,201 to 2,000
1st. LynDee Stephens, Benbrook Star — “With first-graders shooting classmates, gun control necessary” Well-written, powerful piece on guns and crime — regardless of reader’s viewpoint on gun control. It makes you think. “Immigrants battle with INS raises unsettling questions” Really terrific, passionate column that takes a stand on behalf of a local citizen. This woman has potential!
2nd. Vic Parker, Jefferson Jimplecute — “Finding a way” Strong descriptive writing with a thoughtful message on human behavior and nature’s wrath. “Jefferson’s front porch” a heartfelt piece on patriotism and a town itself. It also had a strong narrative, good color.
3rd. Jason Roberts, Lake Cities Sun, Lake Dallas — “I’m breaking the addiction to my habit” Interesting, thought-provoking way of looking at smoking. Very well written also. “Church: It’s more than just paper airplanes” Smart, reasoned piece on faith and values. He relies a wee bit too much, however, on parentheses to make some points.
4th. Lou Antonelli, Cedar Hill Sentinel — “The fall of the random umpires” The column contains nice humorous touches with just the right amount off sophistication. “Proud of our racial diversity” Nicely-written, if slightly marred (due to spelling errors). Good social commentary.

Division 9, Weeklies 1,200 or Less
1st. Gracia Thibodeaux, Calvert Tribune — “by Cajun” Good subject and good ending. Good subject by too many cliches.
2nd. Teena Maenza, Gulf Coast Tribune, Needville — “This ... and That” A funny subject. Wonderful memories. Good description.
3rd. Randy Mankin, The Eldorado Success — “Tom Landry, a great football coach, a great Texan and a great man” A good and inspiring story. “Eldorado sounds much different at night” Good. Writer has written about something other than himself.
4th. Nanalee Nichols, Deport Times — “A little to the left, please” A subject we can all relate to, but I’d like to see something meatier. “Tallest of all” A wonderful piece about a local hero. Perfect for small town, community newspapers.