The Wise County Messenger won the sweepstakes award for twice weekly publications in the North and East Texas Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest. Awards were presented Saturday during the association’s annual convention in Mount Vernon.
The Messenger earned first-place awards in advertising, feature story, headline writing, news writing, sports coverage and photographer of the year. The paper totaled 875 points to win the sweepstakes award. Hood County News in Granbury was second with 800 points.
Judges said of the three winning ads, “Liked the ad with entire background on what they are selling. Good use of white space and creative photo. Very creative and simple for featuring the sponsors of the ad.” Ads were designed by Andrew May, Pierre Moua and Peter Franco.
Winning feature stories were written by reporters Brandon Evans and Erika Pedroza. Evans’ feature on a teen mom drew judges’ comments of “Layout, writing, research all great.” Pedroza’s story on a young boy with a rare tumor drew comments of “Good details of day-to-day life with this rare disease. Good job.”
Of the headlines, judges said, “You wiped me out with the pun,” referring to the headline “Wipe out – Burning toilet paper cause of 265-acre fire March 11.”
Evans received another first-place award for news writing for a story on a large grassfire Aug. 31 near Paradise – “Well done package with several stories and plenty of photos,” judges said – and a murder arrest near Paradise on Aug. 17 – “Well turned article about a mysterious country murder,” judges said.
Sports editor Richard Greene’s first-place entries included the Oct. 8 issue featuring special coverage of the “Battle of Big Sandy” and the May 19 issue featuring coverage of the state track and field meet. Judges said: “Great photos. Everything very crisp and clear. Very good writing. An all-around great job. Good use of photo in layout.”
Joe Duty earned photographer of the year honors. His photos included one of a building in downtown Decatur with the courthouse reflected in the windows, construction workers at the site of a workplace fatality, an arrest of a woman attempting to hire a “hit man” and a photo of a local athlete crossing the finish line at the state track meet.
Judges said: “You have an extraordinary eye and the willingness to work hard to back it up. The results are nothing short of amazing. The readers of Decatur and surrounding areas are so fortunate to have your talents covering their lives day in and day out.”
The Messenger also received second-place awards for journalist of the year (Evans), third-place awards in general excellence, special section, community service, column writing, page design and feature photo, and fourth place in sports photo.