The Wise County Messenger earned its 14th Sweepstakes award last weekend as the best large semiweekly newspaper in Texas.
It was the 12th time in the last 13 years the Messenger has taken the top honor in the category.
The contest is sponsored by the Texas Press Association. Awards were presented at the group’s 135th annual summer convention in Corpus Christi.
The Messenger earned first-place plaques in feature writing, news writing, sports coverage, sports photos, routine special section and general excellence.
Second-place awards came in advertising, one-time or “blue moon” special sections, and page design, and third-place awards in column writing, feature photos and best web site. The newspaper took fourths in headline writing and news photos.
There were 134 newspapers entered in the contest, with winners named in 10 divisions based on frequency and circulation. The Messenger competed with the the Marble Falls Highlander, the Uvalde Leader-News, the Boerne Star, the Hood County News and the Fayette County Record in most categories.
This year’s judges, members of the New Mexico Press Association, viewed entries online.
Of the Messenger’s general excellence entries, the judge said, “Overall, a great product.”
In feature writing, the judge commented on “Ashlie lives on” – reporter Erika Pedroza’s story about a kidney transplant recipient – and “Preserving history” by editor Kristen Tribe, which told of cabin restorer Bill Marquis’ work in Wise County.
“Both of these stories hit the right notes at the right times,” the judge said. “‘Where is your Ashlie?’ – that just about killed me. Good choice to lead with that and a great story about the importance of organ donation. It made it personal, which is the best way to get people to act. The second story was excellent as well. A great character piece, great lead.”
The news writing award went for stories written by former Messenger reporter Brandon Evans on the trial of Danny Nalley in a wreck that killed four of his friends, and the chase and shootout in Decatur that ended the life of murder suspect Evan Ebel of Colorado.
The special section honored was the 2013 “Welcome to Wise” visitor’s guide, edited by special projects manager Brian Knox, and in sports coverage and sports photos it was the work of former sports editor Clay Corbett and photographer Joe Duty that judges cited.