The Kilgore News Herald and its sister-papers in Bluebonnet Publishing returned from the North & East Texas Press Association’s annual convention with a range of awards celebrating community journalism.
From news writing and photography to sports pages, advertising, design and more, the News Herald’s entries from 2017 coverage netted another second place Sweepstakes finish.
Judges from outside the community vet the news product, KNH Co-Publisher Bill Woodall said, taking into consideration how a publication is covering the town – its schools, municipal government, civic groups and individuals.
The annual awards help gauge the success of that coverage.
“It just says these newspapers are performing a service their communities need,” he said.
Based in Kilgore, Bluebonnet Publishing also produces the Wood County Monitor, Tri-County Leader, Bullard Banner News and Lindale News & Times in other hometown offices.
In NETPA’s 2018 Better Newspapers Contest, the News Herald competed against other semi-weekly publications throughout the region, netting 850 points to 1,275 for Hood County News.
Sports Editor Mitch Lucas and Advertising Representative Linda Ballard finished first and third, respectively, among columnists in North and East Texas, from two selections in Ballard’s “Texas Bred” series as well as Lucas’ June 2017 column “A battle that was bigger than any game,” memorializing Kilgore High School student Jay Cox.
Managing Editor James Draper and former KNH reporter Chelsea Katz shared a first place plaque for feature writing, with judges praising Katz’s November 2017 article on NASA diver Leslie Nichols: “Amazing story. The lead grabbed me and pulled me in and then I would never put it down.”
Designs by Ben Marmolejo-Najera netted a first place award in the Advertising contest, and the News Herald brought home another top finish in Headline Writing with an entry that included “Cock-a-doodle-don’t” and “Game Over: County puts kibosh on counterfeit casinos.”
KNH finished second in News Writing, Feature Photo and News Photo with third place awards for Sports Photography, Page Design and General Excellence. Katz finished third in the Photographer of the Year contest.
Competing against weekly papers in Division 4, Wood County Monitor placed first in General Excellence and Sports Writing with third place finishes in Sports Photography, Sports Coverage, Column Writing (Larry Tucker), Editorials and News Photography. The publication netted third in the Sweepstakes category.
In Division 5, the Tri-County Leader netted three plaques – first in General Excellence, Sports Writing and Feature Photo – and two third place awards for Column Writing (Suzanne Loudamy) and Sports Coverage, netting third place Sweepstakes. The Bullard Banner News placed second in Sports Coverage and third in Sports Writing, Advertising, Headline Writing and Feature Photo.
While the vast majority of reporting is done in home offices, the bulk of the production of Bluebonnet Publishing newspapers is spearheaded by staffers in Kilgore and printed on the press here. It means jobs in this community.
In addition to clerical staffers and the employees focused on KNH’s product, “We have four graphic artists, three mailroom employees and two press room employees” based in Kilgore, Woodall said, “Most of those would not be here if we did not produce a number of newspapers in this plant.”