When you compete in Texas, you've gone up against the best.
In the annual Texas Associate Press Managing Editors contest, the Victoria Advocate competed against newspapers ranging from daily circulations of 30,000 all the way up to 125,000. The only papers above that category are in Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Austin and Fort Worth. That leaves a lot of other big papers in our classification, including Corpus Christi, Amarillo and Beaumont.
As we reported Monday, the Advocate collected 23 awards, including eight first places. What we didn't get a chance to report were the judges' comments, which were posted later.
Please permit me to share some of those comments for our first-place awards:
-- Best online newspaper: "Like the marketplace directory. Love the use of video. Tight page that makes it easy to find what you want. Lots of updates — even on weekends. Easy to navigate. Well-done site."
-- Deadline writing (City bags big Cat): "This story went beyond the basics with good reporting and authoritative, lively writing on breaking news of great importance to the community. It served readers well."
-- Feature series (A Father's Strength): No judges comments available.
-- Comment and criticism (An open letter to the real-life Russian spies): "Aprill Brandon's slightly askew reactions to the things she sees going on around her have the unusual consequence of making the reader want to go back and study the events that inspired them. A truly fresh, and refreshing take on commentary."
-- Feature page by an individual (Ryan Huddle): "These pages show a remarkable range of creativity, approach and execution. There's lots to look at, lots to read and lots of visuals to get your attention. The pages are fun and active and simply very impressive. The multi-page spread on Tron is particularly cool and engaging."
-- Team design (Harry Potter by Ryan Huddle, Shari Prenzler and Meredith Cash): No judges comments available.
-- Infographic (New high school by Robert Zavala): "3D is clean and detailed. Nice explainer with lots of organized information. ... Overall very ambitious, great job."
-- Star Designer of the Year (Ryan Huddle): No judges comments available. It's worth stressing here that Huddle also won this honor among all designers at all Texas newspapers, including the big boys.
Some other judges' comments caught our eyes, too. A New York Times judge had this to say about our Caterpillar coverage as Star Breaking News Report of the Year entry, which earned second place: "An outstanding complete package of reporting, layout and Web value as well as a much-informative Q&A. Polished, even though on deadline!"
We don't do the work for the awards, but recognition from your peers is always nice. Of course, the ultimate judges are the readers. That's why were particularly enjoyed this comment a reader posted to the Advocate's Facebook page:
"The Advocate goes a long way towards doing the impossible ...being 'everything for everybody' ... The print/online dichotomy is handled gracefully with limited, if any, detriment to either. Social media outreach is among the best in the area...The future of newspapers is NOT the past, nor does it LOOK like the past, but down here there are significant pockets of tech-adverse, even tech-antagonistic readers....a fine line to walk and remain economically viable for advertisers.....so far, so good..."
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