2009 Better Newspaper Contest — Community Service

WinnerCircle2009

Daily Division

1. Lubbock Avalanche Journal — “Hope deferred: Elliott Blackburn” Superbly told, wonderfully written narrative. Classic newspaper journalism telling the story of a wrong being righted (even after the main character’s death) and of justice being found for a family. (It wasn’t a perfect fit for this category, but it was the best journalism in the category.)
2. The Facts, Clute — “Hurricane Ike resources” Paper deserves tremendous credit for comprehensive and thorough reader-driven coverage. Smart focus on issue that matters, such as power, schools, FEMA, etc. Lots of easy-to-use updates by community and what’s open etc. The coverage was driven by community service and done very well.
3. Lufkin Daily News — “Dialysis center closure & investigation” The paper deserves substantial credit for watchdog reporting in following the daily story. Its open records requests resulted in the community getting needed information and its editorial voice was powerful in holding the regulators accountable.
4. The Galveston County Daily News — “UTMB layoffs” A terrific job of documenting the huge cuts facing the UT Medical Branch in Galveston. Not only did the paper thoroughly document what was actually happening, it also shot down/discussed all the rumors swirling around. Clearly, readers were front of mind in this work.

Semiweekly Division

1. Port Lavaca Wave — “Got tickets?” This was an outstanding campaign! It was provocative, clever and fun. The art was of high quality, creative and effective. The campaign invoked a sense of community spirit and purpose. The call to action was extraordinary. Excellent effort.
2. Hood County News — “Support our troops. Adopt one” Good representation throughout year. The campaign gives a real sense of pride in community, country and family. It engages the reader, not only from the basic reader/publisher relationship, but through a call-to-action element. This is an excellent example of showing support without pushing an agenda or through political commentary or overtone. Great work!
3. Beeville Bee-Picayune — “Pain at the pump” Thought provoking. The editorials were well-written and convincing. They proved very effective at setting the stage for the series of local news articles. Collectively the series explored the global “cause and effect” perspective and the local realities of higher energy costs. The local perspective captured the essence of how the business person, the worker and the government are feeling the pinch and the sacrifices each are having to make. Well done.
4. The Graham Leader — “Teen drinking” Excellent subject matter. The series seemed to get off to a slow start but built as it went, culminating in well researched portrayal of a societal issue that needed to see the light of day. As an outsider, it is difficult to appreciate the local reaction and how it may affect the writer’s ability to have others speak openly about the issue. As a reader, I would like to have heard a parent’s perspective whose child may be active in underage drinking, with and without the parent’s knowledge. I also think the paper missed an opportunity. Instead of highlighting the issue and just dropping the problem back in “Mom and Dad’s lap, the paper could have been instrumental in organizing a parent’s support group for training and or counseling. This may have happened but wasn’t apparent in the submission. The series shows a great deal of passion and commitment on the part of the writing team. Good effort!

Weekly Division

1. Refugio County Press — “Dog bite attacks” Critical issue for the community. Great pictures and good use of the paper as a forum to instigate positive change.
2. Clay County Leader — “Jail museum” Professional packaging, great coverage, art and layout. The graphics are really what put this above the other entrants.
3. Hays Free Press — “Road bonds” Great topic and a very useful issue. Excellent graphics and use of art. Fantastic coverage of complex issues. Good follow-up touch. This is journalism at its finest!
4. The Canadian Record — “Day care” Nice looking paper. A compelling story, very nice job outlining school district proposal. Very clearly articulated.