Messenger earns national recognition

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, September 14, 2013

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The Wise County Messenger took home 13 awards at the National Newspaper Association’s 2013 Better Newspaper Contest and Better Newspaper Advertising Contest.

Winners were to be recognized at a reception today during NNA’s 127th Annual Convention and Trade Show in Phoenix. Messenger Publisher Roy Eaton and Production Manager Todd Griffith attended the event.

Winners were chosen from more than 2,000 entries, with 544 awards going to 140 member newspapers in 41 states. California led with 88 wins, followed by Texas with 45. Iowa and Wyoming tied with 41 each.

The Messenger’s awards – all from calendar year 2012 – included:

  • Best Local News Coverage, first place
  • Community Service, first place
  • Best Breaking News Story, second place
  • Best Feature Story, second place
  • Best Special News, Sports or Feature Section, second place
  • Best Sports Photo, second place
  • Best Use of Photographs, second place
  • Best Newspaper Promotion, second place
  • Best Single Ad Idea, second place
  • Best Humorous Column, third place
  • Best Special News Sports or Feature Section, third place
  • Best Public Notice Section, third place, and
  • Best Use of Ad Color, third place.

The award for Local News Coverage was based on the entire content of the March 17 and Sept. 29 issues, recognizing the entire staff for their contributions.

“Wonderful mix of hard news coverage and feature stories throughout this great local community newspaper,” was the judge’s comment.

The other first-place award, for Community Service, went to the four-part feature series, “America’s Costliest War” with features by Bob Buckel, Brandon Evans, Brian Knox and Erika Pedroza, photography by Joe Duty and graphics by Jimmy Alford and Todd Griffith.

“Wow!” the judges wrote. “An excellent series on a subject that impacts every community in this country. Unfortunately, most communities choose to set it on the back burner. You have placed it on the front burner in Wise County!”

Second place honors for Best Breaking News Story went to “Tragedy by the Tracks” with stories by Brandon Evans, photos and graphics by Joe Duty and Jimmy Alford.

“Excellent job of reporting, and research,” the judges wrote. “Superior job of telling the young man’s story and the dangers of anyone wearing earbuds and walking on railroad tracks. Stories by Brandon Evans excellent, and the sidebar, ‘Earbuds mark disturbing trend’ was great, along with map of the U.S. showing pedestrian train deaths, and added to the impact of the sorrowful story about the loss of a teenager. Quotes from coach/teacher and others warmed the story. Other tragedies at that site also moved this story. You did a great job of telling the story in an organized way.”

Evans’ writing and Duty’s photography also earned second place nationally in Best Feature Story for “Life Minus One” – the story of a teenage suicide from a mother’s perspective.

“A close second,” was the judge’s comment. “The writer tackled a tough topic to write about but handled it admirably. I’m glad this writer didn’t stray away from suicide like so many others do.”

Duty’s photographs brought home two more second-place honors: Best Sports Photo for “Close Call” and Best Use of Photographs for the Oct. 13 and 17 issues.

“Close Call” – a photo from a Bridgeport baseball game, drew praise from the judge: “Capturing the action at just the right time, facial expression priceless.”

The Best Use of Photographs entries included photos by Clay Corbett, Mack Thweatt, Buckel, Alford and Duty.

“What I really liked about this publication was how they committed to the images they ran,” the judge wrote. “They didn’t run a lot of photos and there were some grey pages, but when this team ran a picture, they knew that the right way to run a picture is large, helping generate impact and interest.”

A second-place award also honored Griffith’s “comic book” advertising promotion, a series of ads designed to boost the newspaper’s advertising.

“Awesome!” the judge wrote. “Brought life to a very troubled section of our industry. I wanted to place a classified ad!”

Another second-place, this one for Best Single Ad Idea/Black & White, was for the Pet Health Center’s “One Day Only” ad by graphic artist Pierre Moua. The judge commented: “Wise County Messenger’s ‘Pet Health Center One Day Only’ not only makes effective use of animal clip art but builds a sense of urgency by limiting the offer to 1 day.”

The Messenger took both second and third in the Best Special Section contest.

The annual Breast Cancer Awareness section, “Close to my heart” took second, featuring the work of Erika Pedroza, Alea Pena, Todd Griffith, Madeline Pena and Brian Knox, as well as the advertising and graphics departments.

“This was a beautiful special section,” the judge said. “There were plenty of ads, and the whole piece was laid out beautifully.”

Third place in the same contest went to the annual Fall Sports Guide, with Richard Greene, Clay Corbett, Joe Duty, Pierre Moua and Andrew May earning special mention.

The judge commented: “I loved this sports section because it gave so much detail to all of the teams. I could tell a lot of work and detail went into this section.”

The ad department also took a third place for Best Public Notice Section for the annual listing of “Where Sex Offenders Reside in Wise County” put together by Griffith. “What a wonderful public service to the community from the department placing these ads. More papers should talk to their counties about doing this,” the judge wrote.

Another third place was for Best Use of Ad Color for the ad, “We Stand With You in Your Fight Against Cancer” by Griffith. “Very attractive ad with great use of color – I like it, jumps off page,” wrote the judge.

Buckel won a third place in Best Humorous Column for his entry titled, “The Naked Truth About Welcome to Wise.” The judges thought the piece was “witty and lighthearted about a tart and tangy topic” – the ban (eventually lifted) on last year’s “Welcome to Wise” book from Texas Travel Centers because of an ad for a nudist colony.

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