The Wise County Messenger was Texas’ top award-winner at last weekend’s 2012 Better Newspaper Contest/Better Newspaper Advertising Contest awards reception in Charleston, S.C.
Awards for outstanding community journalism in 2011 were presented Saturday, Oct. 6, during the National Newspaper Association’s 126th Annual Convention and Trade Show.
The Messenger captured first-place awards in two editorial categories and three advertising contests and took home honorable mention in the prestigious General Excellence category. In addition, the Messenger earned two second-place awards, three third-place awards and three more honorable mentions in the nationwide competition. Of the 42 awards brought home by Texas newspapers, the Messenger captured 14.
NNA Contest Chair Jeff Farren, publisher of the Kendall County Record in Yorkville, Ill., announced and congratulated the contest winners.
“The winners reflect the high quality of publications represented by the association,” Farren said.
There were 1,954 entries in the Better Newspaper Contest and 395 entries in the Better Newspaper Advertising Contest for a total of 2,349 entries. A total of 525 awards were won by 135 member newspapers in 36 states.
The Messenger‘s top awards came for:
- Best Breaking News Photo, non-daily division, circulation 5,000-9,999, “Mourning the loss” by Joe Duty. The judges commented, “This is a spectacular on-the-scene news photo. The contrast among the three men – the calm of the trained EMT, the shock of the co-worker with his hand to his head, the devastation of the prostrate co-worker – captures the meaning of sudden death.”
- Best Sports Story, daily & non-daily division, circulation less than 9,000, “Bond of broken hearts: In wake of tragedy, Lady Bulldogs forge way to title” by former sports editor Richard Greene. The judges said it was “Excellent work – this story is worthy of front-page coverage. Great storytelling!”
- Best Multiple Advertiser Section, non-daily division, circulation 5,000-9,999, “This Year Fight Like a Girl” by the Messenger staff. The judges commented that this was a “Good twist on a Health section. Very clean-looking.”
- Best Public Notice Section, daily & non-daily division, “Crime Stoppers of Wise County – Where Sex Offenders Reside in Wise County”, by the Messenger staff. The judges particularly liked this section, commenting: “This was a very well-executed section showing head shots of dozens of sex offenders, sorted by town. Produced in full color, this section showed the offenders, their addresses and their transgressions. It had a national color map on the cover showing that their home state was above average in the number of sex offenders per capita. It also had good contact info if anyone needed to report a sex offender or crime. It was not only a great presentation for the client (the County Sheriff) but also chilling editorial content to look through the faces of all those offenders. The best public notice sections go beyond publishing legal notices by trying to make them interesting content as well and/or they educate the public about a topic or what public notices are. Making the content easy to read and scan are bonuses, too. This section did a great job on all counts.”
- Best Single Ad Idea – black & white, daily & non-daily division, circulation less than 10,000: “Best Elected Official in Wise County – Kevin Burns”, produced by the Messenger staff. The judges said the ad was “Great, eye-catching design. Unique and would stand out from everything on the page.”
The Messenger also earned second-place honors for best feature photo, “Wise reflections” by Joe Duty, which judges said was “difficult to place as second because actually is more visually appealing to me than is first place, however, technical skills and zoom were considered. Also a truly beautiful photograph.”
Another second place for best small-page ad went to an advertisement for “2011 Cruise Nights” by the graphics staff.
The Messenger took third place honors for best breaking news story, “Fire blazes path of destruction” by Brandon Evans; best weekend edition by the staff; and best use of ad color for the Cruise Nights ad.
The honorable mentions were for best sports photo for “Sliding in to out” by Joe Duty; best advertising idea for the 2011 Breast Cancer section, “This year, fight like a girl” and best use of local photography in ads, for “For 100 years, Chevys have delivered” by Ken Roselle.
Judging was performed primarily by active community newspaper editors and publishers and included retired university journalism professors and retired or former newspaper men and women.
The NNA General Excellence award is designed to honor newspapers that achieve excellence across the board – in quality of writing, headlines, use of photos and art, composition, reproduction, presswork, editorial pages, front page, family life/living pages, sports pages, advertising design, layout and copy writing, handling of classified and/or reader ads and taste, and treatment of public notices.
Entrants submitted three non-Sunday issues: one from June 2011, one from November 2011 and the third a consecutive issue to either of those.
The top three papers in the non-daily division, circulation 3,000-5,999 in which the Messenger competed were the Hutchinson Leader of Hutchinson, Minn., the Mount Desert Islander of Bar Harbor, Maine, and the Litchfield Independent Review, also of Hutchinson, Minn.
The Messenger took the only honorable mention. The judges commented, “Terrific community newspaper. A bit loose in design, but open and inviting. A good representative example of a very strong group of papers in the honorable mention range. Lots of fine work being done at small papers across the country. All need to keep updating content, design, presentation.”
Established in 1885, the National Newspaper Association is the voice of America’s community newspapers and the largest newspaper association in the country. The nation’s community papers inform, educate and entertain nearly 150 million readers every week.