By Will Johnson
CONROE – During the 2018 Texas Press Association (TPA) Newspaper Leadership Retreat, newspaper executives and representatives from across the State of Texas joined together for a three day conference in order to share ideas about the industry, suggest improvements and discuss innovations, as well as to celebrate the best examples of journalism from 2017.
As a part of this celebration, a brunch was held to recognize the winners of the 2018 Texas Better Ne
According to the TPA, “This year, 142 newspapers submitted 1,410 entries in the Texas Better Newspaper Contest. The contest was broken down into 10 divisions in which newspapers compete against papers of similar circulation size.”
Judging for the 2018 contest was performed by the Nebraska Press Association (NPA) as part of the Better Newspaper Contest judging swap.
The TPA member newspapers competed in various divisions and had the opportunity to submit entries in 12 sweepstakes contest categories, along with four non-sweepstakes contest categories.
As TPA officers rattled off the names of those selected to receive awards, a name familiar to many in the East Texas area was called as The Messenger Newspaper was honored with five awards.
The Grapeland-based paper picked up two first place finishes in the Page Design and Advertising categories. The Messenger also received a second place award in the Editorial category. Additionally, the n
ewspaper placed fourth in both the news photo category and the community service category.
In the Sweepstakes competition, 100 points are awarded for first place, 75 for second, 50 for third and 25 for fourth. The Messenger picked up 300 points to finish fifth overall in the competition. The fourth place finish in the Community Service category was not factored in to the final point totals.
One of the two first place finishes for The Messenger was in Advertising. Under the TPA guidelines for advertising submissions, it was requested newspapers “… submit digital tear sheets of three staff-produced advertisements originally published in 2017. Judges will consider all three ads as one entry. Judging will be based on selling power of copy, originality/creativity, lay out/design, use of photos, graphics and typography.”
A tear sheet is a page which is cut, removed or torn from a periodical and used chiefly to provide evidence to an advertiser in a publication of the use of their ad. It is also used to show someone that a story or picture was published.
The NPA judges commented The Messenger’s advertising had “… nice style, good layout and use of color.
The other first place finish was in the Page Design category. Under the TPA Guidelines for this category, newspapers were requested to “… submit digital tear sheets of four pages – one front page, one editorial page, one sports page and one family/lifestyle page – originally published in 2017. Judges will consider all pages as one entry. Pages need not come from the same edition. Judging will be based on readability, innovation, color, graphics, design features, typography, photos and other artwork.”
In regard to The Messenger’s submission, the NPA judges remarked, “Page design enhances the stories you are telling. Clean and appealing layout.”
In the editorial category, The Messenger placed second. Under the TPA guidelines for editorial submissions, it was requested newspapers “… submit digital tear sheets of two editorials originally published in 2017. Judges will consider both editorials as one entry. Judging will be based on quality and style of writing, lead, persuasiveness, subject matter and local significance.”
No comments were provided for the Division Five area of competition in which The Messenger competed.
The Messenger picked up a fourth place award in the non-Sweepstakes category of Community Service. In this category, it is stipulated “… submit digital tear sheets of all evidence (e.g., news, photos, editorials, letters, and programs) of your newspaper’s support of one community project conducted during 2017. Entries must have been originally published during 2017. Attach a letter describing the background and results of the project. Judging will be based on subject matter, quality of coverage, extent of community engagement, layout/design/presentation and local significance. Awards may be presented in the following divisions: Daily, Semiweekly, and Weekly.”
Concerning The Messenger’s entry, the NPA judges stated, “An admirable result from newspaper publicity. Good cause for any community to get behind.”
The final award snagged by The Messenger was in the News Photo category. The NPA judges commented on the fourth place selection and remarked, “Good photos, these visuals enhance stories and several can stand alone.
Under the TPA guidelines for News Photo submissions, it was requested newspapers “… submit digital tear sheets of five news photos originally published in 2017. Judges will consider all five photos as one entry. Judging will be based on timeliness, composition, quality of cutline, enterprise and innovation.”
The Messenger, part of the Nicol Media Group, competed in the Semi-Weekly Division for newspapers with a circulation of 4,000 or less.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.