2010 Better Newspaper Contest — Column Writing

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Division 2 Dailies 7,000 to 99,999

1.  El Paso Times — “Cherish the game—every last second of it” by Bill Knight. Knight’s columns are not news stories with a dose of editorializing thrown in like so many are. He has a message and perspective. In “Cherish the game…” he almost poetically memorializes the allure of Friday night football in Texas, of little boys’ dreams, of big boys’ memories of the gridiron. Good read! “Like it or not, this is a golden era for UTEP” by Bill Knight. Knight has a knack for selling his perspective without getting preachy. His points are usually simple, wise and heartfelt and laid out in beautiful writing. He makes column writing an art.
2.  Galveston County Daily News — “Housing precipice” and “No need for civility in free speech” by Dolph Tillotson. Dolph Tillotson takes on important topics such as post-Ike public housing needs and free speech. There’s no doubt where he stands on issues. Well written and thoughtful.
3.  Facts, Clute — “In bad economy, no place assured of sunny skies” and “Bryan Beach has fallen into sad shape” by Michael Morris. Michael Morris is a storyteller. While he’s making an unmistakable point in his columns, he paints a picture for readers. You can see the scene he’s describing, which makes his viewpoint easier to see as well. Both are well done!
4.  Victoria Advocate — “The planning on planning a wedding blues” and “How I discovered the weight-loss cure” by Aprill Brandon. Aprill Brandon’s columns are not going to solve any of the major problems of the world, but they are engaging, funny, relatable and exactly the kind of reader-focused content newspapers need to value. Her personable style is no doubt popular with readers. She has a youthful perspective on life.

Division 3 Dailies Less Than 7,000

1.  Plainview Daily Herald — “A mountain for Sue Terrill” and “What’s in a name?” by Kevin Lewis. Lewis has a personable and engaging style. His topics aren’t news of note, but they are important because they are about real life, whether it’s building a “mountain” in tribute to his late mother-in-law or exploring the quirkiness of names.
2.  San Marcos Daily Record — “One cartoon, two Charlies and a little art appreciation” and “School bells for Tay” by Rowe Ray. Ray’s columns not only display his writing prowess, they reveal who he is as an editor and a man. His excitement over his discourse with readers as well as his paying homage to Mondays with his grandson shows he cares. That no doubt strikes a chord with Record readers.
3. Brownwood Bulletin — “Pondering role models, and lessons that can be learned” and “Mourning Michael Jackson: Either you get it, or you don’t” by Gene Deason. The Ted Kennedy question Deason explores is provocative and his answers are wise. His writing also imparts knowledge of his subjects, whether political history or pop culture.
4.  Waxahachie Daily Light — “Clyde Riddle: An American hero” and “Do you Twitter?” by Neal White. Neal White’s columns show his range, from the touching tribute to veteran Clyde Riddle to his irreverent take on Twitter. Neal white made me laugh.

Division 4 Semiweeklies 4,001 or More

1.  Uvalde Leader-News — “Sibling rivalry: Let the war games commence” and “Guide: How not to cook a cow head” by Craig Garnett. The headline, “How not to cook a cow head,” certainly grabs your attention and Garnett’s column lives up to it. He’s a riveting storyteller with wry observations, whether it’s about sibling rivalry or bovine culinary methods. Garnett certainly has a way with words.   
2.  Boerne Star — “When it comes to what really matters, my brother was a success” and “On how to mess up an Ugly Dog’s life” by Elena Tucker. Rare is the columnist who can be both poignant and funny, but Elena Tucker pulls it off. Her tribute to her brother’s life and her point that all lives are noteworthy was touching. Then she entertains us with how she messed up Ugly Dog’s life. Beautiful writing.
3.  Beeville Bee-Picayune — “Growing the economy one tomato at a time” and “Perils of first pop president: Talk about overexposure” by Chip Latcham. Latcham’s victory garden notion is brilliant. Who knew gardening metaphors could be so much fun? He also had fun conjuring a faux daily itinerary for the president. Bottom line is he’s a compelling writer who uses his imagination to illustrate important topics.
4.  Hood County News — “Poll vault” and “Here’s the skinny on columnist’s fat digs” by Kathy Swindle. Swindle’s sardonic writing style is a breath of fresh air, whether explaining the perils of targeting computer geeks in an online poll or taking on snooty, NYC columnists. She’s sassy and compelling. Bet readers love her!

Division 5 Semiweeklies 4,000 or Less

1.  Lamesa Press-Reporter — “Men wearing gowns is not a pretty sight” and “Amazing video displays reason to be thankful” by Russel Skiles. Skiles tackles an important topic—colonoscopies—with a major dose of levity and a short gown. He paints a vivid picture for readers with his words in both columns. But “Men wearing gowns…” is exceptional. His hospital gown might be short on length, but he’s not short on talent.
2.  Round Rock Leader — “The old judge goes home to Ellagene” and “The Jewish usher at St. Helen’s somehow avoids Mass confusion” by Brad Stutzman. Stutzman outdoes himself with his ode to the “old judge.” Simply masterful writing. “The Jewish usher…” is also a testament to his writing prowess.
3.  Perryton Herald — “Ochiltree Observer: As It Seems” and “Ochiltree Observer: Drug War” by Jim Hudson. Hudson’s columns are a joy to read, whether a more serious tone on the perils of drugs or a fun reminder that things are not always as they seem.
4.  Copperas Cove Leader-Press — “Honoring their sacrifice this Memorial Day” and “Dawgs lose 27-2 in gawd-awful baseball game” by John Eubanks. Eubanks is a good storyteller who takes readers on a journey with him. Honoring veterans is always a worthy topic, but his flashback to 40 years ago reminds us of the grip Vietnam had on our country. And the column on the windy 27-2 baseball game—yes, he’s seen it all.

Division 6 Large Weeklies

1.  Hays Free Press — “Quit renaming our holidays” by Clint Younts. I always wondered what St. Valentine’s did. This column made me laugh. Good job and congratulations. “Clintodamus predicts the unpredictable” by Clint Younts. Very funny and creative. Looking forward to see what comes next!
2.  Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post — “Cats Rule—And Don’t Forget It” by Terry Collier. Great storytelling. Everyone’s got a “pet the kiddo left at home” memory. Would have liked to have learned about those peppers! “Leading With Their Hearts” by Terry Collier. Nice!
3.  Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post — “Meet Dr. No” by Cathy Collier. A story your readers can relate to. Update on terrible twos required! “He’s The Man” by Cathy Collier. Great job. Longest lead ever, in a way, and a delight to read.
4.  Cleveland Advocate — “Jury is out on lawyer shows” by Aryn Corley. Very nice. I was a little confused at first, thinking you meant CNN/FOX-type shows. Love the Mattress Tag Unit! “Don’t mock my smock” by Aryn Corley. Good column on a topic everyone is tired of!

Division 7 Medium Large Weeklies

1.  Goldthwaite Eagle — “It’s the Little Things…” by Tammarrah “Tammy” Pledger. Great way to honor a community—with your personal experiences. “The Heartbreakers:” by Tammarrah “Tammy” Pledger. Nice narrative.
2.  Advance News Journal — “Johnny Rogers was a hell of a guy” by G. Romero Wendorf. Very nice column. Good job personalizing a news story while also honoring a friend. “Anti-war crowd silent now that Democrat’s in power?” by G. Romero Wendorf. No comment.
3.  Alpine Avalanche — “Lots and lots of rain talk at the coffee shop” by Mike Perry. Nice way to write a round-up of observations and opinions. Easy-to-read writing style. “Ciro, coaches, watching Pete and labels” by Mike Perry. No comment.
4.  Alpine Avalanche — “Needed: Animal shelter and owners with brains” by George Covington. Good lead. Good information. A convincing argument for a local need. “Art at the end of the Earth or near the end of the Earth” by George Covington. Nice writing style.

Division 8 Medium Weeklies

1. Springtown Epigraph — “Who needs to win when you have the Death Star?” by Mark K. Campbell. Good writing style—strikes just the right notes of sarcasm and satire. “Hitting the (sea)wall with a 2-year-old boy” by Mark K. Campbell. Good use of humor without belaboring the point.
2. Community News — “Lessons from Salieri” by Randy Keck. Excellent writing. Points are well made and blended. I think it could have been shorter without losing much of the meaning. “Not just blowing (second-hand) smoke” by Randy Keck. Good use of facts and stats to make points. Again, could have been done in fewer words.
3.  Kirbyville Banner — “Every day is a winding road…” (September 2, 2009) and “Every day is a winding road…” (June 10, 2009) by Sherri White. Columns are written from the heart and it comes through clearly. You put into writing the heartfelt moments experienced by parents that are so hard to describe.
4.  West Austin News — “Westside Stories” by Forrest Preece. Interesting topic. “Dean Lofton Still Leads Parades” by Forrest Preece. Good topic. I like how you introduced the readers to the other sides of people they think they may know.

Division 9 Small Medium Weeklies

1.  Clarendon Enterprise — “Mom’s love will live on” by Roger Estlack. Moving and descriptive memories of your mother. I wish I had known her! “Era of bigger government has begun” by Roger Estlack. Sound the alarm.
2.  Quanah Tribune-Chief — “This too shall pass” by Carol Ann Whitmire. Moving tribute to co-worker. Well done! “Two of like minds” by Carol Ann Whitmire. You have a talent for obits!
3.  Frankston Citizen — “Debunking ‘backwoods Frankston’ concept” by J. Tom Graham. Way to defend your community! “Neches pillars gather until time to pay” by J. Tom Graham. Creative look at old men’s club. I feel like I know them!
4.  Hico News Review — “That McAdams Column” (March 5, 2009) by Jerry McAdams. A well-deserved tribute. “That McAdams Column” (July 23, 2009) by Jerry McAdams. A sobering look at then and now.

Division 10 Small Weeklies

1.  Overton Press — “It’s hard when it’s your team facing ‘the longest yard’” by Charlotte Heldenbrand. Excellent reminder. Gentle constructive criticism. “Paul Harvey made every day a good day” by Charlotte Heldenbrand. Very well done. You write well.
2.  Bay Area Citizen — “Riding the range early on” by Chuck Hlava. Wow—do you have a history to draw from. Nice ending too! “Taking to the skies” by Chuck Hlava. Great lead!
3.  Menard News — “More Than A Box of Books!” by Dan Feather. Great example of a good local column. “Yes, I Am A Chili Expert!” by Dan Feather. Funny!
4.  Wallis News-Review — “Hard Times” by Michael Griffin. Well done! Needful reminder of dark days! “The Rooster” by Michael Griffin. Ha!