2003 Better Newspaper Contest — News Writing

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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

News Writing

Division 2 Dailies 7,000 or More

1st. The Beaumont Enterprise — I judged only the top story on each stack. The rampage story was very well done. Good lede and a good choice to tell story in a chronological narrative. The lawyer package was excellent. Next time only two entries!

2nd. Laredo Morning Times — Great story on the adoption arrests. Clear, interesting. Good variety in writing. Perhaps the last graph could have been bumped higher and end on the quote. Sanchez story started well but lost me at the giant quote mid-story. Maybe an excerpt of his speech could have been a sidebar.

3rd. The Facts (Clute) — Storm story felt like it should have ended after Cardenas’ insurance co. quote. Could the rest have been broken into sidebars? Nice variety in the writing. Fire story was very moving. Good choice of quotes although a little heavy on defense info. McGee’s statements about burning Proffitt like a witch were shocking. Perhaps material that good could have been higher in the story. And what about Proffitt’s husband? Is she responsible for that? Good story.

4th. Odessa American — Shooting story was reported very well, but is a little confusing. Almost implies police are hiding something early-on but never supports it effectively. Doctor lede is a nutgraph. Uses “MCH” acronym on first reference. Story needs to be broken up into stories or take info out for sidebars.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1st. Athens Daily Review — The “mold” story is a first-rate piece of enterprise — a real effort by the Daily Review to get the story out. Leads on both stories were clearly the best in this division and the writing was quite good. Newsy stories, well-researched and told.

2nd. Kilgore News Herald — “Telecom” stands out in this division as a very good piece of enterprise and well-told. “Police standoff” shows hustle, but the writing was not as good. Both are excellent news stories — the yarns people will talk about. A close call between this entry and the winner.

3rd. Waxahachie Daily Light — Best overall writing in this division. Good leads with solid story organization. News value of “Two slain” was offset some by the “pooper” yarn (although it was entertaining.) Very good hustle (enterprise, if you will) on “Two Slain” again, offset some by “pooper.”

4th. Pecos Enterprise — Very newsy local stories. Minor improvement possible on leads, especially on “bombing.” “Greyhound” is well-told; “Bombing” less so, being hampered by several events — a situation that a little more work could have fixed. Little enterprise in either, but that was offset by good hustle.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1st. Fayette County Record — Line for line the most readable stories in this division. Organization was excellent. Leads were to-the-point and the stories were too. Good enterprise on “Rabies” and to an extent of “Downtown.” Issues within these reports well-explained. A very professional job.

2nd. Uvalde Leader News — Very strong entries, led by the flood story. The writing, especially on Flood, is clear and moves along nicely. Enterprise was strong on Flood, but less so on Torres. Good leads, with only the wordiness of Torres’ top working against you in this division.

3rd. Wharton Journal-Spectator — “Fay floods” required real effort and helped carry the enterprise ranking. Both stories were highly newsy and written clearly with good organization. Crisp leads that delivered.

4th. Wise County Messenger — Good leads and writing on both was undermined somewhat by over-written “wreck.” Newsy stories got the treatment they deserved. Hustle was evident in “wreck,” but little enterprise otherwise (digging, discovery, out-of-the-ordinary sources).

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1st. Lamesa Press-Reporter — Terrific, descriptive and crisp ledes. The reader feels like they are at the scene. Well told, well reported. Complete in terms of details as well.

2nd. Gatesville Messenger — Not difficult stories but each was crisply written, with excellent quotes, description and detail. Readers were fully informed in easy read and interesting stories.

3rd. Breckenridge American — Ledes are simple but direct and to the point. Reporting is complete, detailed, in good order, crisply written. The virus story was great through detail about how she became ill — everyone gets an excellent understanding of what the virus feels like. Great order.

4th. Mansfield News Mirror — Stories are complete, interesting lede on school story, good details. Excellent work on shooting — made story more than just another crime story. Good details, description, thorough reporting.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1st. Austin Business Journal — Enjoyed the writing. Story on Bradley took the reader behind the scenes on development. Nice job! Would have been nice to find someone served by Central Texas. Humanize the story. Overall top-notch work.

2nd. Azle News — Your lottery story was great. Good subject, nice quotes etc. Strong writing, generally watch use of partial quotes. Are they really necessary? Nice work.

3rd. The Jasper NewsBoy — Jaime’s story propelled this package. A compelling message to all parents who trust others to care for their children. More quotes in Herrin story would have helped. Work on word choice. Nice job though.

4th. Houston Business Journal — Writing is strong. While you are writing for a business-to-business publication, I still was looking for a human element in your stories.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1st. Ellis County Press — Crisply written leads on stories that are easy to read. Use of language is good and sometimes vigorous. Newsy topics with flashes of real enterprise in the reporting.

2nd. Aransas Pass Progress — The “marina battle” story is the best presentation of a complex story in this division — well organized, well explained, simply written. A very professional job, worthy of some national papers. Shrimpers was good too. Overall the two had good leads. Good content, good reporting on stories important in your area.

3rd. Wills Point Chronicle — Both these stories are good. The leads are direct and inviting, the organization and the language flow nicely. There is good reporting here on stories of strong local interest.

4th. Blanco County News — “Campus” is well organized and clearly written, a good example of its genre. “Mailbox” shows a lot of enterprise, and like “campus” reads well. Crisp (but unspectacular) leads carry readers on. Good topics with high news interest.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1st. Lindale News & Times — Great enterprise, and reporter tells us why all involved benefit with quotes. Personalized with the sisters in the lead.

2nd. Lake Country Sun (Graford) — Good observation about the judge’s anger. Nice touch explaining Smith’s values.

3rd. The Monahans News — Interviewed all the important players. Would have been nice to see the homeowners’ response high in the story.

4th. Pilot Point Post-Signal — Strong effort. Good quotes, a feature often over and under used in this category.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1st. The Citizen (Clear Lake) — Well-written stories, comprehensively reported. Descriptive language worked well in Spillman’s Island story.

2nd. Pflugerville Pflag — House story tends to feature. Exclamation points? Foundation story is very comprehensive. It’s the winner here.

3rd. The Portland News — This is one of the few flood stories I read in several categories that actually interviews residents rather than officials. I like the enterprise of the second DUI stories. Tighter writing would have placed entry higher but I like to see work (effort).

4th. The Leonard Graphic — Seems thorough. Interviewed employees, customers, officials.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1st. Alvin Sun — Great job in researching and writing. Lots of legwork in these stories.

2nd. Alvarado Star — Good writing style. Easy to follow. Two good topics to write about. Good job.

3rd. The International (Presidio) — Good job, particularly the story about Esequiel Hernandez Jr. Two things that might make your stories easier to read are shorter paragraphs and a Times-style type face. Too much san serif.

4th. The Gladewater Mirror — Interesting story about the teacher and her retirement money troubles. You needed to include a mug of her with your story. Good job on the crime spree story. Very thorough. Also need mug shot of the DA, the police chief or those arrested.