2009 Better Newspaper Contest — Sports Coverage

WinnerCircle2009

Division 2 Dailies 7,000 to 99,999

1. Odessa American — Very clean presentation, with story emphasis on local coverage. Excellent use of left column for briefs/previews. Well-executed plan for coverage of preps in both sections. Writing could have been tighter/stronger in several stories, particularly the leads, but overall off the mark. Would have liked a column/commentary among entries. Dec. 7 main photo could have been chosen better. Inside action shots are more interesting /compelling.
2. Midland Reporter-Telegram — Excellent use of photos/graphics to tell story. Strong enterprise approach to HS realignment story with combination of coverage/commentary/ analysis. Headlines are solid if not spectacular. Headers on prep roundup games too big/bold. Photo choices and cropping on points championship story could have been better. Overall, a good mix of bylines, coverage, graphics, commentary.
3. Laredo Morning Times — Story presentation can be improved with larger use of better photos. Good mix of coverage/emphasis. Writing was solid in most cases. Would have liked to see a column/commentary among submissions. Glitches: Typo on Dec. 16 cover in story label (TAMIIU). Agate front very difficult to read. Time Out photos on 3B look more like filler than news and compete with photos below.
4. The Brownsville Herald — Good presentation overall, though headlines could be stronger. Cover story could have used action photo rather than two posed shots. Strong use of “teaser” rail for online and inside coverage.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1. Waxahachie Daily Light — Presentation sets these sections apart from the rest. Obviously, local coverage matters most, and it shows. Outstanding commitment in both pictures and words to covering what matters most to your readers.
2. The Huntsville Item — Strong overall presentation with room to grow in all areas. More consistent “look” could be one goal, particularly on front and jump pages.
3. Plainview Daily Herald — Good coverage effort but very dense look to both front pages. For instance, the Section B streamer referring to inside stories is lost at top of Dec. 28 page. Solid job.
4. Henderson Daily News — June 22 layout could have been improved with horizontal design. Overall solid presentation. Next year include more feature material and less game coverage. Need to see more range in writing style.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1. Wise County Messenger — Your Dec. 14 section was clean, sharp and top-three quality, by itself. The Sept. 25 section did the rest. Front to back, a winning effort. You’ve managed to do in print what too many now think they accomplish by blogging, and for that “old-school” success, you are to be commended. Not your story per se, but the way you told it, followed by solid prep coverage, a predication column, illustrated game capsules, etc. Outstanding work, sir, and the best overall submission regardless of division that we judged. (We had Divs. 2, 3 & 4) Congratulations!
2. Williamson County Sun — Very clean, very polished entry. Excellent use of photos with a strong design. Good mix of coverage. Next year, try to include an opinion piece and/or feature story among your pages. Congratulations!
3. The Highlander, Marble Falls — The Sept. 16 cover is excellent, though the “wrap” between the player’s legs is tough to read. Great concept. But the Price design didn’t work as well, and that overall page was too “tight.” A very solid presentation of game coverage, features, area news and opinion. Your future’s bright… keep up the good work!
4. Hood County News — Toughest division to judge, and your enterprise in covering the swimming and tennis trials is impressive. Two very strong sections. Congratulations and keep it up!

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1. The Light & Champion, Center — The only thing that could have made the entry better was a higher range of coverage. Big headlines and dynamic pictures all the way around. Writing is also very well done. Great entry.
2. Copperas Cove Leader-Press — Very nice entry. Bigger pictures could enhance the paper (like the track photo) but I thought the sizes were good. I like the fact you follow your players after high school. Not a lot of papers do that. Writing is spot-on and very well done. Great entry.
3. The Bowie News — That Hwy. 287 Tournament sounds insane…in a good way, of course. Anyway, this is a pretty good entry. Try to avoid group pictures when more dynamic action shots can be used. Let the parents take care of things like that. Writing is very good…better than most. I like the left-hand rail of information, very nice touch. Nice work.
4. The Monitor, Mabank — Not bad at all. Front page is a little busy, especially with the red stroke lines. But the photo spreads were good, just don’t go too crazy with them. Nice shots of the midget football games…some copy would have made that much better but good pictures. Overall not bad at all.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1. Hays Free Press — Outstanding! Very good use of space. Dynamic photos and writing. Very well done!
2. The Rockdale Reporter — Fantastic! Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t change a thing. Writing is excellent and layout and pictures work very well.
3. Wylie News — Awesome. Huge front page photos are great. Looks clean and sharp…gets a little busy with all the photos, but still works. Writing is very good. I would rate it between excellent/good, but I guess I can’t do that. Nice sections thought. Congrats.
4. Burnet Bulletin — Pretty good stuff right there. Really enjoyed the feature on the pole vaulter. Good mix of sports too. Photos are used well also. Overall, very nice.

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1. Westlake Picayune — Great graphics, excellent writing, layout and overall coverage. This paper was the instant standout in this category. Very well done. Keep up the good work!
2. Lake Travis View — Very strong contender for the top spot. Excellent use of color and graphics, great columns and commentary. Fantastic effort overall!
3. Hill Country Community Journal, Kerrville — Great art and use of color. Nice action photos and good overall coverage.
4. Alpine Avalanche — Great Little League coverage! Excellent use of photos and color, great writing.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. Hill Country News, Cedar Park — Excellent quality of writing, layout/design and suitability of headlines. Good photos. Average range of coverage.
2. Park Cities News — A lot to choose from. Nice.
3. Springtown Epigraph — Clean uncluttered layout/ design. Nice large photos, by someone who likes to take photos.
4. Ellis County Press — Excellent photos. Good quality of writing, range of coverage and layout/design. Average suitability of headlines.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1. Sachse News — Layout and design is very clean and modular. Like the use of labels over each headline. Leads are good. Writing is stronger than the competition. Top three division entries were very close.
2. The Albany News — Wow! Lots of color sports pages and photos. Looks good. Decent variety of stories. Don’t care for your paper’s sub-head font. Good reproduction. Good exposure of photos. Layout is solid. Writing is good. Try to use more quotes from the athletes. Top three entries were very close.
3. Pflugerville Pflag — Photos as a whole are very good with good croppings. Layout is solid. Try working more quotes into stories to give them more life and do less reporting of simply repeating results and play-by-play. Save that for agate, which you should consider. I really like the lead football photo of the 12/4/08 issue. Nice!
4. Princeton Herald — Layout is solid. Might have too much air/spacing between elements. Writing has high and low points. Some is strong some is weak with poor leads. If you had color your sports cover would be attractive. Get quotes from athletes and use them in your stories.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1. Murphy Monitor — Nice variety of coverage. Layout/ design is solid, especially for this division. Writing is good, but would be better with quotes from the athletes themselves. You can tell your paper takes its prep sport coverage seriously and doesn’t make it an after-thought.
2. Everman Star — Good stories with quotes from players, something most other papers in your division seem to never have. Layout is good. Photos are good, but try to crop tighter in on the main subject. Not a lot of variety in terms of coverage.
3. Lake Cities Sun, Lake Dallas — Nice sports feature story, something I rarely saw from others while judging. Layout is good, though wasn’t a big fan of the gray screen on the schedules. Try to increase your story count on the front page. Use more quotes and less play-by-play in your writing.
4. Crowley Star — No Comments.