Pleasanton Express took some coveted wins at the South Texas Press Association Convention this year. This was the first virtual STPA convention since it began in 1927. The judges for this year’s Better Newspaper Contest awards were from the School of Journalism/Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas. The Pleasanton Express competes against some of the best weekly newspapers in any division including the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post, the Port Aransas South Jetty and the Rockdale Reporter. The Pleasanton Express team, while highly competitive, feels strongly that losing to any one of these newspapers is not a loss as they set the bar so high.
The judges commended the Pleasanton Express for its writing, heavy community coverage and capturing local events through an engaging and clean design.
1st Place Sports Section – Sam Fowler. The judges stated, “On the strength of its writing, Pleasanton earns first in this division. Some of the best writing, both in game stories and features. Lovely sports writing on Christmas Day, with feature on beach volleyball player and the prom-dress rugby match “game story” well composed and striking just the right tone. For the most part, clean layouts as well as nice use of art that is well placed (like placing staged photos and mug shots at bottom of pages).”
2nd Place Special Section Aaron Davidson, Rebecca Pesqueda and Lisa Luna. For the Poteet Strawberry Festival tab, the judges stated, “Coverage is a great mix of art and articles. Nice cover montage.”
2nd Place Serious Column Writing, Rebecca Pesqueda and Noel Wilkerson Holmes. The judges stated, “Pesqueda’s take on “The Joker” movie was novel, personal and persuasive. Holmes’ column on her mother’s death was mournful and poignant. Two completely different columns, different styles, but both work.”
2nd Place News Photos, Xavier J Garcia and Leon Zabava. The judges stated, “J’s fire photo was beautifully composed and looks like a painting. The image tells the story well. It captures the dangers the fire fighters routinely face. It was very competitive with the first-place photo.”
2nd Place Feature Photos, Sam Fowler and Rebecca Pesqueda. “Rebecca Pesqueda captured strong emotion at the dance. The expression on the young man’s face is priceless. Sam Fowler’s close-up of the hand was well composed and did the job well.”
3rd Place Sports photo, Sam Fowler and J Garcia. “Strong moments that were captured with pre- cise timing. The photo of the player with both legs off the ground perfectly shows the gravity-defying moves he displayed in the game.”
3rd Place Feature Writing, Sam Fowler and Noel Wilkerson Holmes. “Third place goes to Sam Fowler’s inspiring story of a baseball coach who uses his diabetes as another way to help student/athletes is a nice departure from game stories. Noel crafted a beautiful profile of a courageous young boy who fought cancer twice within one year. The reporter chronicled the boy’s fighting spirit nicely.”
3rd Place, Headline Writing. “The Pleasanton Express turned in three intriguing headlines. “Scooby Dooby Doo, we found you” could not have been better. When you find a Great Dane by the name of Scooby, this is the only headline you could write. Well done. The “Won’t you join me?” headline for the late co-publisher was a touching treatment to an incredible woman. The headline worked beautifully with the photo.”
3rd Place, Lifestyle Section, Lisa Luna. “Alamo reunion (Esparza family) is best design because photos have room to breathe. Some photos are small. Great community engagement with art, captions.”
Page Design, Rebecca Pesqueda, Sam Fowler, Lisa Luna, Loni Just, Aaron Davidson and team. The judges commented, “The Pleasanton Express does a good job of capturing the local flavor of the area through an engaging, clean design. Both editions submitted for the contest play up things that are surely very important to the community: The “cowboys of the year” feature and “Cowboy Homecoming.” I’m sure those are clipped out and put on many refrigerators across the community. The school ratings graphic on the bottom of one of the editions captures the eye through the use of a USA TODAY-style infographic. Sports editor Sam Fowler must be an incredibly busy journalist. I lost count of how many bylines he has in the two issues, and the “Fall Sports Preview” is a great piece of service journalism for the local sports community.”
Honorable Mention, News Writing, Lisa Luna. “Luna wrote about issues important to the community and presented opinions and speaker’s comments in context and great detail. On the Safer Path story, a lot of good voices into what it took to get the facility off the ground.”