Advocate takes home 'Sweepstakes' award at annual Texas Press Association contest

The Victoria Advocate was honored as the top newspaper in its class in the 2009 Better Newspaper Contest at the 130th annual Texas Press Association convention.

The Advocate won 10 individual awards, including five first-places, two seconds, two thirds and a fourth in the contest.

Those awards landed the Advocate the coveted Sweepstakes award, which recognizes the top newspaper in each category. The Advocate competed in the second-highest division, against newspapers with circulation between 7,000 and 99,999.

Here's a breakdown of the awards and some judges' comments about first-place awards:

First place, page design: "This is a paper not afraid to be bold. Strong use of photography for dramatic presentation is most appealing along with equally bold headline displays."

First place, news writing, Gabe Semenza: "Impressive enterprise that took on a subject of value for your community. Nice storytelling details throughout," a judge wrote about his work on the Fatal Funnel "Narco Terrorist" story.

First place, news column writing, Aprill Brandon: "The writing makes fun to read."

First place, news photo, T.C. Baker, and former photographer Roni Gendler: "Photographer was on the spot to capture emotions of the news story" and "Spot news photo showed one woman's reaction to being in wrong place when rainfall engulfs area."

First place, best advertising: "Crisp clean ads ... Good use of space."

Second place, editorial writing

Second place, general excellence

Third place, Blue Moon special section

Third place, headline writing

Fourth place, best Web site