2009 Better Newspaper Contest — Editorials

WinnerCircle2009

Division 2 Dailies 7,000 to 99,999

1. The Brownsville Herald — By Carlos Rodriguez. “Bad faith” DHS shows imperial attitude when it should focus on service” Strong, locally focused indictment of Homeland Security policies. Pulls no punches. “Smug dolts like Chertoff” was worth the wait. “Candid cameras: Blanket surveillance in our cities is an extreme, ineffective intrusion” Brings the national issue of government spying home. Well-researched, persuasive argument that local governments are overreaching too.
2. Victoria Advocate — “Where’s any evidence? That’s a fair question for city to ask” It’s tough to write about an issue that so directly involves the newspaper. These editorials do a good job of calmly making the case that the DA is utterly out of control. “DA’s actions a misuse of his powers” Again, a calmly, well-argued case that the DA is a wingnut. The bullet points about bias are especially effective.
3. The Galveston County Daily News — By Michael A. Smith. “Self sacrifice that marks a real hero” A well-thought out and well-written discussion of what heroism is and what it is not. A compelling read. Favorite line – “things wrapped in Kevlar and painted camouflage.” “Defenseless way to treat our vets” Hooray – an editorial that takes a position and minces no words. “…people who can’t open their mouths to fork in their breakfast eggs without the words ‘I support the troops’ flying out.” Nicely done.
4. Fort Bend Herald — “Growth, taxes and Robin Hood” This one would benefit from a little more detailed explanation of the Robin Hood system. I doubt many readers are intimately acquainted with it. “Is it time for a new speaker?” Short, to-thepoint case for a change of leadership.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1. River Cities Daily Tribune — “Flood recovery group that helped so many needs aid now” Obviously an important topic in an area hit hard by a natural disaster. Much of this was more reporting that commentary. It would have been improved by shortening it. “EDC’s decision to appoint Cribbs deserves another look” this was the single best editorial in the competition. You fulfilled the editorial page’s mission by pointing out questionable practices of a public body and made a strong point about the process and the dubious result. Well done!
2. San Marcos Daily Record — “Downtown parking woes merit attention” a good topic and likely not a popular points of view. Issue was laid out clearly and editorial position was equally clear. “Texas State did right thing” Strong lead and conclusion and a well-delivered opinion.
3. Sulphur Springs News Telegram — “It’s not always ‘fair’” A good hard new topic, with strong stance taken. “Let’s hope others follow FUMC’s lead” A soft topic, but nice to give pats on the back to deserving groups. Hard to disagree with position, which makes it a less-than-strong editorial topic.
4. Waxahachie Daily Light — “Is theater good buy for city?” Wow! Maybe the longest editorial I’ve ever seen. A good topic and thoroughly discussed. Mark Twain said something to the effect of “this letter should have been shorter, but I didn’t have enough time.” “More government not the answer” Story sentiments, strongly stated.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1. Hood County News — “Be careful what you wish for” A detailed defense of the mayor, with arguments that were convincing to me. Sounds like this is an ongoing controversy and you did your job well in trying to throw a bit of light on the subject. “Public deserves public information” by Kathy Swindle. Bravo! I was a bit skeptical about a reporter-written editorial, but in reading it I could really see the value in a description from the front-line troops. Defending and demanding open government should be a cornerstone of all editorial pages.
2. Wise County Messenger — By Brian Knox. “Walker Family’s wait for justice: 1,095 days and counting” This read a bit more like a column than an editorial, but you brought real people and their emotions into it. “Citizens deserve better from Rhome leaders” Well done. An editorial has no higher calling than in raising a ruckus when government runs amok. Any effort to keep government open is a good effort in my book.
3. Williamson County Sun — “Slow traffic saves lives” Very long, but filled with good information and suggestions. Bulleted items definitely helped. Could have made those points more succinctly. “Spot light politics” no doubt this is a hot topic in your region. Thought you made a very good argument, but not much included to move this forward – of course, if you could move the immigration issue forward, you would be up for both the Pulitzer and the Nobel prizes!
4. Beeville Bee-Picayune — “Vote no on city proposal: Economic growth generates returns” Use of graph to illustrate your point was a real plus. You made a strong point that the economic development spending had paid off. “City needs to come to grips with economic development” I was a bit lost on what was behind the schism – a reasonable argument made.

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1. The Sealy News — “Y not a YMCA?” Local issues which addresses the quality of life. Identifies value ad calls for action. “An ironic twist” Excellent observation regarding lack of public involvement if subject matter doesn’t evoke emotions.
2. The Canyon News — “Corporate problems in auto industry hit local market” Blunt and drives the point directly home and shows the national problem having local consequences. “County steps up for fire service” Local, and shows the good side of politics when they get it right.
3. Andrews County News — By Don Ingram. “Newspapers crucial in free society” Writer uses a heartfelt walk down memory lane as an excellent bridge between the facts and realities of a free press. Well done. “Thanksgiving” Good use of history to demonstrate American resilience and hope.
4. Breckenridge American — “Right now we need each other” Takes media to task for a lack of balanced reporting and the damaging effects of society and our credibility. “The cat in the hat stops to get gas” Fun, lighthearted and on target.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. The Rockdale Reporter — By Mike Brown. “‘Finalist’ Wordplay is why taxpayers won’t know superintendent names” Good job of skewering public bodies for getting around the law. Humpty Dumpty quote was effective. “Water wars: Conservation districts nervously await Supreme Court decision” Complex issues such as water regulation are tough to explain in an editorial. This one does a good job with a wonkish topic.
2. Hays Free Press — “Tough time to graduate” Clearly a big local story, and a thoughtful editorial. I’m not sure exactly what the caution is referring to. Maybe your readers do. “Citizens mangled in game of gotcha” Excellent editorial -- the better of the two. A real person done wrong by the system is powerful and the officials clearly deserved your tongue-lashing.
3. Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post — “It’s a matter of life and…” Good use of a real family -- I’m assuming they’re real – to illustrate the point. “Before…” Very nice wording. The parallel construction is effective. It’s something of a perennial topic, though.
4. The Silsbee Bee — “A grain of salt” by Danny Reneau. Not local at all, and the argument is a little confusing. Jesse Jackson Jr. appears on the last graf with no frame of reference. “Consider this…” by Gerry L. Dickert. A well-reasoned analysis of what appears to be a questionable home. A bit on the long side.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. Alpine Avalanche — By Mike Perry. “Field of dreams? We could make them real” Very community oriented and rallying. Provides solutions to problems, but watch run-on sentences. “ ‘State of children’ report is humiliating” Good, applicable facts to support your argument. Watch small misspellings – “hat’s sweat equity…” instead of “that’s sweat equity.”
2. The Big Bend Sentinel, Marfa — By Robert Halpern. “Thanks to the volunteers…” Very locally pertinent, but it sometimes seems like more of an article than an editorial (until the end). Good point in the end, though. “Marfa council should oppose border wall” Locally significant, good, interesting points about border crossings. A bit short – some incomplete thoughts, like you mention a state-of-the-art technology, but never say what that means.
3. Pittsburg Gazette — By Susan Taft. “Voters’ disinterest in Home Rule disappointing” It is commendable how quickly you get to the point. Good addition of facts to back your argument. “Count your blessings and have a merry Christmas” Good point, but not very original. Elaborate more on the individuals you talked about – the mother praying for her son, etc. in more detail.
4. Colorado City Record — By Carol Parsons. “Cookie cutter mentality shortchanges everyone” Good point, but a bit cliché in the beginning with all the “square pegs.” Good one liner – “It’s no longer a question of apples and oranges – it’s about making fruit salad with only one fruit.” “Farm bill issues impact everyone’s lives” Good local significance, a bit tedious at times.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. Hill Country News, Cedar Park — By Scott McDonald. “Only the animals should be offended” In the same editorial, there are aspects that I completely agree and disagree with; however, the quality of writing made it worthwhile to read, regardless of how I felt about the subject. “Let’s make a right thing more perfect” Well-written and entertaining. Powerful subject matter, but not very conducive to provoking discussion.
2. Dublin Citizen — By Mac McKinnon. “How much is too much?” Good editorial style and subject, a couple of minor typos, but overall convincing and well-said. “They’re supposed to be citizen legislators” Good in that it addresses a problem and effectively outlines a solution as well.
3. Pilot Point Post-Signal — By David Lewis. “Is there any way for us to come together?” Lead needs some work. Didn’t draw me in, for a few paragraphs – once I got interested, I thought it was interesting and engaging. “There it is, in black and white” Again the lead is a little slow to grab my attention, but the overall style is effective and convincing.
4. The Canadian Record — By Laurie Ezzell Brown. “Aquifer” While the subject was kind of boring, it seemed to have a great deal of local importance, and the last couple paragraphs made a strong and valid point. “City council” So long. I lost interest. However, I appreciate an editorial that has “guts” like this one, at the risk of offending some people, it stands by its philosophy.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. The Albany News — “Squelching rumors” Concise, courageous discussion of an important local situation. “Shop at home” Well-written and thoughtful treatment of a perennial topic.
2. The Eldorado Success — By Randy Mankin. “I didn’t do nothin’…and it won’t happen again!” Humorous development of a theme that draws the reader in before the transitioning to a broader topic. Well done! “Eldorado, I’m so proud of you” Well-written example of a positive editorial, much more difficult to accomplish well than a negative one.
3. Ozona Stockman — By Melissa Perner. “Don’t complain unless you voted” Well-written approach to a perennial problem. Concise sentences with clear factual information. “The season of giving” Nicely expressed suggestions with clearly defined possible course of action. Ordinary subject matter raised to a higher level by good writing.
4. Muleshoe Journal — “ ‘Openness’ means just that” Well reasoned criticism based on applicable state statute and clearly-stated examples of failure to comply. “Support for clinic expansion” Even-handed treatment of a public entity’s decision.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. Everman Star — By Candy McMichen. “The dream is becoming a reality” Heartfelt, clearly-written, persuasive presentation of a personal point of view. “What if we held an election and nobody came? Concise expression of concern about a local phenomenem.
2. Lindsay Letter — By Richard Greene. “Districts need local control” Good lead, clearly written, nice close. “Cities should butt out” Clever headline, well expressed point of view.
3. Overton Press — “And many more” Good writing makes this piece about a local event rise above the ordinary. “Rusk County Republicans must shock the Sheriff” Good political analysis arguing for pragmatism over ideology.
4. Lone Star Iconoclast, Crawford — By Nathan Diebenow. “Own your bigotry, Texas GOP” Good use of concrete, specific examples to make a point. “I had a scream” Clever headline, broad scope of subject matter.