The 95th South Texas Press Association 2021 Convention and Better Newspaper Contest was held in Uvalde July 29-31.
The Pleasanton Express walked away with big wins including 1st Place Sports Section, 1st Place Advertising, Journalist of the Year, Photographer of the Year, 2nd Place Lifestyle Pages, 2nd Place Community Service, 2nd and 3rd place Sports Photos, 3rd Place Bill and Judy Wilkerson Sweepstakes Award, 3rd Place Feature Photo, 3rd Place Editorial Writing, 3rd Place – Humorous Column and 3rd Place Serious Column Writing.
Sam Fowler took home huge wins with Photographer of the Year, Journalist of the Year and 1st place Sports Section. Fowler was especially excited about the Photographer of the Year win as he uses his mother’s camera to take his photos. His mother, a sports photographer, passed away in 2015. Fowler said about this particular award, “Mom, this one’s for you.”
The University of Texas School of Journalism judged the STPA Better Newspaper Contest.
For Photographer of the Year, the judges stated they were competitive — with many of the candidates displaying high levels of technical and creative expertise in the photo coverage of their communities. “Sam Fowler broke from the pack by presenting a varied and newsworthy range of visuals during 2020 — I particularly appreciated his efforts to depict the pandemic and the struggles and changes his town faced along the way. It’s difficult but important work.”
In the comments made about Fowler, as Division 2, Journalist of the Year, judges stated, “Sam Fowler tackled a range of stories this year and did so with flare. From a heartfelt column about Black Americans’ struggle for equality and a compelling profile of a high school basketball star, to an amusing story about a pet chicken, Fowler showed skill and creativity.”
Aaron Davidson, Pleasanton Express Graphic Designer, won first place for his advertising campaign for Merry on Main 2020 and for his Cowboy Fellowship Thanksgiving ad. The judges commented, “The Merry on Main ad is typography at its best – using color and an inviting font. The Little Miss M.O.M. ad is a great use of photography and type; it’s clever that the girl is pulling back the curtain to reveal the ad copy. The Cowboy Fellowship ad is elegant, and its flourishes fit the spirit of the ad.”
Lisa Luna, Living Editor took home a second place for the Pleasanton Express Living Section. Judges commented, “Strong community stories anchor the living section, with staff photos and some of best courtesy art seen in the competition. The stories and design make for aesthetically pleasing local pages. Overall, these pages are fine storytelling, breathing life into the community.”
The Pleasanton Express took home second place in Community Service for coverage and outreach on COVID. “The Express is right to be proud of its public service devoted to COVID — not just in the news stories, but also with Q&A’s, front-page restaurant listings and a county resource guide. The Express, along with many other STPA newspapers, deserve a special thanks for serving their communities during this unprecedented crisis — and putting their hometowns before revenue concerns,” stated the judges.
Rebecca Pesqueda, News Editor, Pleasanton Express, earned a third place for her feature photo of a little boy which the judges said was a tightly composed photo of a Thanksgiving meal that showed a simple and fun slice of life. Pesqueda and Noël Wilkerson Holmes took home third place for editorials. Holmes took home a third place on serious column writing.
Paul Michael Jones won third place for his humorous column with the judges stating that he adroitly uses humorous family stories to encourage readers to slow down and appreciate the sometimes overlooked joys of life.