Three Pleasanton Express staff members, Sue Brown, David Wickersham and Eric Smith received wins at the “Better Newspaper Contests” awards luncheon held during the 86th Annual South Texas Press Association Convention, Friday, April 20 at the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. The South Texas Press Association (STPA) is the largest regional press association in the United States.
Sue Brown, Express Editor, won 2nd Place in the Humorous Column Writing. The judges commented that her column was “fun stuff!”. David Wickersham, Express Photographer and Ad Production Manager, won in two areas – 2nd Place News Photos and Photographer of the Year Honorable Mention. The judges said about Wickersham’s work, “good job overall, especially the spot news shots.” Express Sports Editor, Eric Smith, won Honorable Mention, Sports Section. All awards were selected from newspapers in Division Two which is for South Texas Weekly Newspapers with a circulation of 3000 plus. The three winners were congratulated by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, upon leaving the awards luncheon.
Cyndy Slovak-Barton, STPA Contest Chair, said that the association saw a 16% increase in the number of newspapers entering the 2012 Better Newspaper Contest. There were 42 newspaper entries this year as compared to 36 last year. The number of entries were also up with 512 this year from 470 last year.
Over the past 30 years, the Pleasanton Express has won more than 120 awards in the Better Newspaper Contest Award. Bill Wilkerson, Judy Wilkerson, David Wilkerson and Sue Brown have all served as President of STPA and served in numerous capacities as officers and directors. Bill Wilkerson, Co-Publisher of the Express, seved as STPA Secretary/ Treasurer from 1985 until 2004. Having held the longest officer role in STPA history, Wilkerson tried to retire from the position but was told “no” by the board. He finally “was allowed” to retire from that position with the caveat that he serve as permanent financial assistant to the STPA president which he has done since 2004.
Larry Jackson, Editor of the Fayette County Record, convention attendees to stand and be recognized for the number of years they have attended the annual STPA event. The Pleasanton Express took home the prize for most years attended by a newspaper. The results were Bill Wilkerson 54 years, Judy Wilkerson, 50 years, Maggie Rodriquez, 37 years, Mary Gallegos, 28 years, Sue Brown, 24 years, Cathy Meadows, 21 years, Hope Garza, 20 years, Lisa Luna 12 years, David Wickersham, 12 years, Rhonda Chancellor, 9 years, Aaron Davidson, 7 years, Robbie Hamby, 6 years, Jessica Machado, 4 years and Eric Smith, 2 years. That represents 285 years of Pleasanton Express staff members reaping the rewards of business collaboration and friendships with publishers, editors and staff of hundreds of South Texas weekly newspapers as well as newspaper educational training.
The Express staff have benefited greatly from top-notch workshops lead by media industry experts. The training sessions provide strategies, tips and tools that equip staff to make their weekly newspaper the best it can be. This year’s STPA speaker was Andrew Chavez, Texas Center of Community Journalism, who gave two presentations on “Writing effective news stories” and “Web tools that help journalists cover stories more effectively.”