The Houston Herald received 20 awards Saturday in the Missouri Better Newspaper Contest announced in Springfield.

The Herald  won more awards than any newspaper in south-central Missouri. The contest, judged by an out-of-state panel, recognized the best work of weekly and daily newspapers in 2016 in Missouri.

The newspaper has won 20 or more awards each of the past five years.

“We are honored to again receive such great recognition from our peers,” Herald Editor Jeff McNiell said. “I’m proud of the work my colleagues produce week after week for our community. We’ve set a high standard that we strive to reach every time we report on a story or produce an edition of the paper.”

The Herald – the 2014 Gold Cup winner among Class 2 weeklies in the state – won top honors in three different categories:

•Best breaking news story. An article written by McNiell and Herald Publisher Brad Gentry on Daniel Campbell’s escape from the Texas County Jail was praised by judges for “skillfully taking readers through his escape while providing necessary details.” Judges also noted the use of online components.

•McNiell’s photograph of the Houston High School softball team celebrating with Tori McCloud following a home run was selected best sports feature photograph.

HHS softball

Tori McCloud, second from left, is embraced by Carly Crawford as she and her teammates celebrate following McCloud’s home run Saturday against Bakersfield. McCloud was the second of three players to go deep in the inning. Taylor Chipps, right, and Stephani Crewse also hit homers in the inning.

•Best information graphic. McNiell’s frontpage design detailed the yearly statistics from the Houston Police Department. The judge said it was a “very simple idea that is very well done.”

Police infographic

This illustration of crime stats from the Houston Police Department won the informational graphic category. 

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

•Gentry and Kathy Richardson were recognized for their work with Downtown Houston Inc. to restore the Melba Theatre. The venue is expected to open at the end of the year.

•Best coverage of rural life or agriculture. Doug Davison was honored for three stories featuring a county garlic farm, pair of renowned horsemanship teachers and an area woman’s collection of rescue animals.

•The garlic farm story also placed as part of a package in the best local business coverage category. Davison’s stories included a truck driving school in Cabool and Evans Sports, a manufacturing business in Houston.

•McNiell’s photograph of Chief Don Gaston of the Houston Rural Fire Department fighting a Chestnut Street house fire was honored in the best news photo category.

House fire

Rural Fire Chief Don Gaston sprays water at a home at 703 Chestnut as black smoke fills the air around home Wednesday afternoon.

•Best feature story. Davison’s article chronicled the rise to fame of the Herrington family, which became well known for producing humorous music videos that parody popular songs.

•A follow-up story of the Campbell escape by McNiell placed in the best news or feature story category.

•Best headline writing, Herald staff.

The Herald received five third-place honors:

•Best sports pages, McNiell.

•Best story about history, Davison.

•Best multimedia reporting, McNiell.

•Best story about education, McNiell.

•Best photo illustration, McNiell.

•Best story about the outdoors, Davison.

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

•Best sports news story or package, McNiell.

•Best sports feature photograph, McNiell.

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