The Independent earns awards in state contest

HOUSTON — The Texas Press Association presented The Liberty Hill Independent with several awards for excellence at its annual meeting in Houston last week. The Texas Better Newspaper Contest awards were presented to daily, semi-weekly and weekly newspapers across the state for work published in 2012. This was the 134th annual meeting of TPA member newspapers.

The Independent was awarded First Place for Feature Writing in Division 10 for weekly newspapers. The award was specifically presented for a feature article about Thanksgiving published in November 2012. One of the judges commenting on the article written about The Independent’s Shelly Wilkison’s Thanksgiving memory, “I felt like I really knew the little girl in the article.”

An unexpected surprise for staff came with the announcement of a Second Place win for Best Website for a weekly newspaper — another first for The Independent. Judges stated that the website, www.LHIndependent.com, was “clean layout – easy to read and navigate. Nice use of multimedia, and I like the strong social media presence. Overall, good site.”

The newspaper received another Second Place award for Sports Photography. It was The Independent’s second year to receive the award for photographs taken by Photographer Kathy Canady. The winning photograph was coverage of a Lady Panthers basketball game.

“Nice action; excellent sharpness. Caught great facial expression on the basketball shot,” a judge wrote.

The Independent received Third Place in the category of Blue Moon Special Sections for its special section honoring the Liberty Hill High School Class of 2012.

“This is a win for Liberty Hill. It is a high honor for a small weekly newspaper to be recognized alongside the giants of the Texas newspaper industry,” said Charles B. Wilkison, co-owner of the newspaper. “We hope that these awards for excellence will be seen as our contribution to our readers and the community at large.

“Serious and qualified journalism makes a difference on many levels. Any small, family-owned business in Liberty Hill would be proud of its reputation for quality and fair dealing, and we are no different than the other hardworking business owners and staff who work tirelessly to make this community a good place to live, work and invest,” he said.

Judges for the annual Texas Better Newspaper Contest are professional journalists from a different state each year so that there are no conflicts and no bias. This year’s entries were judged by members of the Arkansas Press Association.

    According to its website, TPA  promotes the welfare of Texas newspapers, encourages higher standards of journalism, and plays an important role in protecting the public’s right to know as an advocate of First Amendment liberties. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest newspaper trade associations, representing  475 paid-circulation newspapers in publication — 76 dailies and 399 non-dailies, including The Independent.

The Independent is the only local media organization that is a member of TPA. The newspaper is the longest-running news publication in Liberty Hill, in business since 1987 and operated by professional journalists since 2010.

In the 2012 Texas Better Newspaper Contest, which recognized works published in 2011, The Independent received awards for Editorial Writing, Column Writing, Page Design, Sports Photography and Blue Moon Special Sections.