BEEVILLE – The Bee-Picayune newspaper received first place recognition by the South Texas Press Association for its coverage of Bee County’s Confederate flag ban on county-owned flagpoles in 2013.
The coveted community service award is designed to honor the special coverage of a local news event during a calendar year.
This newspaper, which competes in Division 3 with other semiweeklies, took on this controversy last year with multiple stories explaining the details of why and how the ban occurred.
Residents also weighed in with their opinions on flying the Confederate battle flag during the Western Week Celebration—some saying it was a matter of freedom of speech; others saying it represented racism.
An editorial published at the height of the debate explained, “For many, it’s just history. And home. Before declaring all who display the Stars and Bars as de facto racists, it might not hurt to give them the benefit of the doubt.
“And if you choose to fly the flag, then just know you will be offending many.”
The Louisiana Press Association judges said, “Excellent example of creating a forum for readers to weigh in on a controversial topic.”
Also on the list of awards was a first place win in headline writing received during the STPA convention Friday, April 18, in Kerrville.
Jason Collins’ headlines entered included, “Police nab cyber harlot,” “Moses (Trojan head coach) parts for new waters” and the editor’s personal favorite, “Holly Jolly XXXmas.”
Another first place win came for the paper’s lifestyle pages.
Judging in this category included coverage, design and layout of social, school and youth-oriented events and activities.
Layout artists Bill Cough, Laura Campbell and Paul Gonzales were primarily responsible for the pages entered in this category.
The judges had high marks for these three.
“Your photos put you in the winner’s circle. However, layout and style were big factors.
“The Moore Park layout was fresh and interesting while the Oklahoma and Red Dirt Rebel stories were captivating.
“Enjoyed your paper.”
Co-Publisher Jeff Latcham also was honored with a first place plaque.
His editorials—one on a falsehood spread by a Tea Party member during a meeting on the courthouse lawn and another on the Confederate flag ban—were both praised for their prose.
The judges wrote of the Tea Party editorial, “Good job with comparisons and turning phrases.”
Of the Confederate flag editorial, the judges wrote, “Flag piece is a good job at taking a sensible position on what’s a volatile issue.”
Overall, the judges said the competition was close.
“It was very close between first and second in this category. Your prose is so easy to read.
“Difference? I liked the ‘punch’ at the end of both editorials which leaves the reader with something to think about.”
Bill Clough received a third place award for his feature writing ability. Two stories were entered—one on Artie’s Restaurant closing and the other on Thomas Jefferson Intermediate School teacher Tatiana Authement, who came to the U.S. from Russia.
Of Tatiana’s story, the judges wrote, “What a teacher. She’s got quite a history, and you do a good job of laying it out for readers.”
Sports editor Bruce Harper also was recognized for his photographic skills. His photos were moments captured during football games last year.
“(Harper) captures the ruggedness of the game. Good action and composition.”
Harper received an additional honorable mention in the sports coverage category.
All of these wins gave the newspaper a share of third place for sweepstakes (overall points), tying with the Round Rock Leader.
Other wins for
The Goliad Advance-Guard was recognized with nine Division I awards at the STPA convention.
Advance-Guard Editor Coy Slavik was named Journalist of the Year, and the Advance-Guard received first-place awards for headline writing and display advertising.
The Advance-Guard finished third in the sweepstakes competition and received second-place recognition in the general excellence category and for its lifestyles reporting, and third-place honors for page design.
The Advance-Guard received honorable mention for its sports coverage and sports photography.
The Karnes Countywide received third place in Division 2 in the general excellence category.
Matt Naber, former editor of The Progress, was recognized with a first place win in the feature photo category.