2001 Better Newspaper Contest — Editorials

Division 2, Dailies 7,000 to 99,999
1st. The Galveston County Daily News, Heber Taylor and Kelly Hawes —”Toothless Tiger: Galveston provides example of why law should be changed” and “Authority’s vision deserves support” In both entries, the writing is clear and straightforward. Argumentation in “Galveston” is very well organized and the point well and clearly made. I think the “Vision” editorial could benefit from moving the point in the next-to-last graf way up. But both are excellent choices of local subjects and are handled well, if maybe with a few too many words.
2nd. Midland Reporter-Telegram — “Complex’s real price tag puts pressure on officials” and “Constable Harris has violated the public trust” The writing in both these editorials is actually the liveliest of the bunch, and the subjects of both are clearly of great local importance. The only drawback that knocked them out of firs was that they both back in to their main points.
3rd. The Facts, Karma Lowe and David Bloom — “Balancing the scales” and “Enemies of democracy” The subjects of both editorials — juvenile justice and public trust regarding a major public works project — are clearly of great local importance. The writing of both is clear, masterful and well organized. While the first and second place entries in this category had a little more life, heat and originality, these entries were not at all far behind.
4th. The  Beaumont Enterprise — “Phenomenal Tiger redefines excellence: No. 1 male golfer is true role model” and “Bill regarding classified data deserves veto: Restrictive measure would suppress disclosure of abuses” The writing in both these entries is clear and direct and the pieces are very well-organized and argued. The would have place higher — maybe even first, depending on the subjects — if they focused on local issues, one the contest’s criteria.

Division 3, Dailies Less Than 7,000
1st. Texas City Sun, Stephen Hadley — “Latest pollution proposals are nothing new” and “Dickinson should rethink its position on sex businesses” Hadley is clearly the best writer of the bunch. His sentences are lively and efficient and his argumentation on these subjects — both important and potentially controversial locally — is capable. What nearly knocked him out of first place is that the reader didn’t have a clear idea of exactly where he landed until the end of his editorials. In his pollution edit, I’m not even now 100% sure what he means by “get it right.”
2nd. Hereford Brand — “A stagnant tax base, rising taxes, and sacred cows: Hold on to your wallets” and “Shouldn’t we be sharpening our shovels?” Both editorials are very clearly and efficiently written and are logically and capably argued. Both argue for some remarkably interesting outcomes — taxing cattle in feedlots and building a prison locally — things likely to cause a ruckus among some in the community. I think the editorials would be strengthened by moving these interesting positions way up instead of burying them, more or less, in the editorial.
3rd. Taylor Daily Press — “Open government in Thrall, Texas” and “The process of choosing a new superintendent” Taylor Daily Press clearly is fighting the good fight, while charging uphill. Both editorials are capably and thoroughly argued, and the writing is competent. Taylor (or Thrall) may be a small community but, even so, I think the writing is overly deferential. If you’re more direct and sold in your conviction, the editorials would become tighter, more efficient, more compelling and more effective.
4th. Waxahachie Daily Light — “At the Crossing” and “Where does GOP stand?” Colorful, clear writing on a couple of interesting local subjects. Positions become quite clear by the end of each, after being capably argued. My opinion: Editorials should make their point up front, then hammer at them throughout for the greatest efficiency and effect, rather than expect readers to be willing to wait till the end. If yours did that, you wouldn’t need an explanation at the top.

Division 4, Semiweeklies 4,001 or +
1st. Uvalde Leader-News — “Waiting for explanation” Let the sun shine in. The citizens do deserve to know and you called out the rats to make it so. “UHA deserves better” Another good job of letting it be known who ain’t doing their job like they oughta be.
2nd. The Graham Leader — “Drop market access criteria” Amen! Doing just what editorials should do — calling out the dogs in State House. “Addicts are people, not projects” Compassionate and caring; tackles an important issue.
3rd. Burleson Star, Sally Ellertson and Lori Elmore Moon — “Look at the example we set by drinking and driving” “... at 18 years ... aren’t old enough to drink ... necessity ... could be questioned.” Wow, things must sure be different in Burleson. Too many numbers; what should be compelling and vital is drab. Too bad, ‘cause “don’t judge” is the best editorial in Division 4. “Don’t judge, don’t criticize and please don’t walk away” EM Forrester: Heart of Darkness ... “The honor ... the horror” brought to life in a compelling honest and brutal way. Extremely important subject beautifully tackled. The best editorial in Division 4, while the companion Drinking and Driving is one of the most lack-luster.
4th. Williamson County Sun — “B&B okay for Old Town” Takes a while to get to the point, or maybe the B&B is less the point that the churches multi-use building and parking lot. “Saving University Avenue” Strong clear interesting writing about a mundane subject. Nice personal touches, solid attention-getting lead.

Division 5, Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less
1st. The Canyon News — “Randall County’s big money pit” and “Commission, voters should tell Cearley ‘no!’” Well-written pieces in a controversial style. Lively argumentation, too, and a point of view that’s clearly and forcibly made. Good job on both.
2nd. Moore County News-Press, Dumas — “Retaliate” and “Moore County heat” Vary vigorous, tight writing. You don’t see many short editorials these days, unfortunately. I think the editorials back in to their point a bit, but they’re so short, they don’t lose the reader. One drawback here is that the Cole editorial isn’t given “local significance.” Good job though!
3rd. Perryton Herald — “City council praise” and “Death penalty deters” This is capable, highly efficient writing dealing, in both cases, with important subjects. Excellent job localizing the “gas” editorial, and nice to see a positive opinion. Ditto with the “death penalty” editorial. Winners ahead of you had a little more zing, but only a hair’s breadth separates them from you.
4th. San Benito News — “Hooray for city officials” and “Our value systems are really wrong” Very lively style of writing that engages reader to the end. Other winners were just a little more sharp and deep.

Division 6, Weeklies 3,001 or More
1st. Jewish Herald-Voice, Houston, Vicki Samuels — “‘Out Damn Jew’ coming soon” Satire a trifle overstated, but a very important issue. Makes good use of the disturbing trend of those “Survivor” shows. I like the editorial stance, which is angry as hell! “...is anybody listening?” Fantastic!! An extremely important issue that much of American fails to get — that prayer, while a virtue in its own way, can exclude and wound others not in the majority. History has shown this time and again with ghastly results. Fine, fine writing here. Clear and to the point.
2nd. The Buda Free Press — “No miracle cure for growth” Fine, fine writing. The style is both elegant and concrete. “The agony is shared by the staff” Great exposition of ethical problems in journalism. Fine writing again!
3rd. The Rockdale Reporter — “Austin-tatious: Big-city ‘alderpeople’ should keep noses within their own city limits” Convincing, feisty viewpoint makes for a great read. “Air huggers: TNRCC hearing reveals mindset of Alcoa’s loudest opponents” Clear, tart, pungent writing. A call to some sense of reason. Not sure I agree with viewpoint but a pleasure to read! Well done!
4th. The Mountain Sun, Kerrville — “County doesn’t need big barn, debt, maintenance to follow” Raises good objections to a high-priced, limited-use building. “KISD in unenviable position; short on cash and options” Fine, clear writing.

Division 7, Weeklies 2,001 to 3,000
1st. River Cities Tribune, Marble Falls — “Poor George” Daniel Clifton, Terrific analysis. “This dog’s life” Unbelievably affecting — the way an editorial on this subject should be written.
2nd. North San Antonio Times — “History for (young) dummies” Wonderful style. Interesting subject. “Broadway drive-in ban a step in wrong direction” Again, great style and nice analysis.
3rd. Aransas Pass Progress, John Lowman — “What happens ...” Succinct and stylish. “Sports week” Well-researched and written.
4th. Duncanville Today — “Council’s actions embarrassing” Rightfully scathing.. “Bradley for Democratic president” Bold and well informed.

Division 8, Weeklies 1,201 to 2,000
1st. The Winters Enterprise, Jean Boles and Reg Boles — “It’s nobody’s business if I smoke — or is it?” Excellent commentary about a deadly practice through the eyes of someone who has experienced certain tragedies. “Oil bidness” Very good writing.
2nd. Lake Cities Sun — “Taking it too far: citizens in government” and “Looking to make changes” Very good editorial; excellently written. Corinth seems to be a lucky place, having good government and a good newspaper to see that it stays that way.
3rd. The Albany News — “Educational woes?” and “Water worries” Good writing. Sold commentary on a timely subject. As a former high school teacher I can sympathize with the problems.
4th.  Cedar Hill Sentinel — “Wal-Mart not welcome in Cedar Hill” and “Free speech and playing with the agenda” Looks like Wal-Mart is having trouble in various places. This is very good writing; thorough and comprehensive.

Division 9, Weeklies 1,200 or Less
1st. The Eldorado Success, Randy Mankin — “No offense, Mr. Prewitt, but some of this just isn’t any of your business!” An ‘in your face’ piece to be proud of. Too bad all newspapers aren’t this irreverent. “Tom Landry, a great football coach, a great Texas and a great man” Wonderful lesson about life. It is stories and articles like these that make people think and have an effect.
2nd. The Eagle Press, Fritch, Debra Wells — “No disgrace for anyone” I would have liked to see something stronger. Excellent subject. Needs more passion. “Leave the right legacy” Must we be do gentle?
3rd. Martin County Messenger, Stanton — “A good deed gone bad,” Mona Hernandez A moving and somewhat funny story. Life is indeed crazy. I hope our grandmother’s foot is OK. “As school comes to a close ...” Wonderful.
4th. Burnet County Citizens Gazette — “County plan deserves community support” Solid idea, uninspiring writing. Let’s see some passion. “Water questions deserve debate” Same thing. Needs passion.