Houston Herald employees Doug Davison, left, and Jeff McNiell hold the organization's five first-place plaques from the annual Missouri Better Newspaper Contest. The Herald received 25 awards overall.

The Houston Herald won 25 awards Saturday in the Missouri Better Newspaper Contest announced in Columbia.

The Herald took five of the top prizes in the contest and won more awards than any newspaper in south-central Missouri. Results from an out-of-state panel were announced in conjunction with the 149th annual convention and trade show of the Missouri Press Association.

“We are fortunate to have a devoted staff that is committed to our community and produces award-winning work,” editor Jeff McNiell said. “We attempt to do everything with excellence and although we sometimes fall short, I truly believe we more often than not hit that mark.”

The Herald – the reigning Gold Cup winner among Class 2 weeklies in the state – won top honors in five different categories:

•Best overall design. Judges praised the “intelligent design through use of feature photos/graphics” and “maximum information in an easy-to-navigate format.”

•“A special moment” written by McNiell won the best sports news story or package. The story detailed a regular-season Houston High School basketball game that became memorable when Alex Henry, a developmentally challenged player on the team, scored two late baskets with cooperation from the visiting team. “A very sweet story that shows a great story doesn’t have to be 100 inches long,” judges said.

•Doug Davison topped the field in the best story about the outdoors category with article detailing a deer study by the Missouri Department of Conservation. “The information was presented effectively and quickly to the reader,” judges wrote, “and the writing style kept the story flowing nicely.”

•McNiell’s photo of donkey basketball – featuring Houston resident Kevin Reed barreling down the court inside Hiett Gymnasium – was the winner of the best feature photograph category. “Just try to walk away from this photo without grinning,” judges wrote. “Great action. Great expressions. Great shot.”

•A preview of HHS football team’s schedule –– Road ahead –– took top honors in the best page design category. It was designed in the sports section by McNiell.

Seven of the Herald’s entries were runners-up in their respective categories:

•Davison’s feature about Missouri Sun Solar, titled “Sun Savvy,” placed second in the best business story category. The judge said, “A well-written and illustrated story about a subject in which interest is growing…a first-rate story about a local business.”

•McNiell’s story of the biggest one-day drug sweep in county history that filled the Texas County Jail placed in the best breaking news story category.

•Davison’s feature about vintage railcar enthusiasts – “Ridin’ the rails” – took second in the best story about history category.

•Davison’s package of three stories was runner-up in best coverage of rural life or agriculture (“Horsemanship haven” about the Mustang Family Reunion Ride in Raymondville, “Technology and tomatoes” about Houston resident Steve Wilson’s hydropnic greenhouse and “Simply living” about renowned primitives specialist and Eunice resident Lizzie Arakelian).

•“New perspective” was McNiell’s story of HHS baseball player Tanner Cantrell overcoming a health scare to return to the diamond. “This was definitely award-worthy in a loaded division of quality entries,” judges said.

•A photo Texas County Sheriff James Sigman and a young boy during the annual ‘Shop with a Cop’ event was “full of heart,” according to judges. It was taken by McNiell.

Shop with a Cop

Connor Chamberlain ponders his next purchase as he walks through the toy section at the Houston Walmart with Texas County Sheriff James Sigman as part of “Shop with a Cop” in December 2014.

•“Road Ahead,” which won the page design category, also placed second for best information graphic.

The Herald received five third-place honors:

•McNiell placed in the community service category for his efforts organizing and covering “Carry the Cross.”

•Best sports pages by McNiell.

•Davison’s feature about a Union Army camp in Houston during the Civil War, titled “Union Dues,” was third in the best military story category.

•Davison’s series of five articles about the formation of Texas County 911 took third in best coverage of government.

•A feature about the Forest Service’s old Roby fire tower complex written by Davison, called “Tall History,” was picked third in the best story about history category.

The Herald was also recognized with honorable mention in these categories:

•General excellence.

•Best online newspaper or website.

•Best front pages by McNiell.

•Best story about the outdoors. “On target,” written by Davison, about a new walk-through archery range opened by the Missouri Department of Conservation at the Gist Ranch Conservation Area.

•Best story about rural life or agriculture. Davison’s “Simply living” took this award on its own.

•Best news of feature special section. The entry was the annual HHS football preview produced by McNiell.

•Best news story or package. McNiell’s article – Ms. 1,000 – highlighted HHS senior Kylee Elmore reaching a basketball milestone.

•Best news photograph. The image of a tractor-trailer accident on U.S. 63 was taken by McNiell.

Winning photograph

Members of the Houston Rural Fire Department rescue squad work to free an Arkansas man from the wreckage of his trailer-truck unit that crashed July 3 on U.S. 63 near Highway RA south of Houston. 

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply