The Independent honored by peers


The Independent received the Texas Press Association’s (TPA) highest honor Saturday, when the newspaper was announced as a Sweepstakes winner in the 2019 Texas Better Newspaper Contest.

The newspaper association representing more than 400 paid circulation publications in Texas, TPA annually honors newspapers across nine divisions for their work in 14 categories.

The Independent placed among the top three in nine of those categories, including first place in four – Sports Coverage, Editorial, Feature Writing, and Feature Photo.

“The team we have at The Independent is dedicated to publishing a newspaper we can be proud of each week, believing that in turn it will be one our readers can be proud of,” said Owner and Publisher Shelly Wilkison. “Each member of our staff brings something special to our business, which allows us to reach milestones like these.”

To win the Sweepstakes award, a newspaper must score the highest point total in its division, with points awarded for top three finishes in each category. The Independent earned 675 total points to win in its division, and scored the fourth highest total among all newspapers competing behind only the Galveston County Daily News, Victoria Advocate and Wise County Messenger.

“To win a Sweepstakes award is something special because it demonstrates that our well-rounded approach to publishing a strong newspaper in every aspect of journalism – from writing, photography, design and advertising – is being reaffirmed,” Wilkison said.

In the Editorial category, The Independent won for a pair of opinion pieces, “Civic Responsibility Goes Beyond Pitchforks and Torches” and “Why should the mayor, council be paid?”.

The win for sports coverage included two full sports sections, where judges considered photography, writing and design as well as the variety of coverage.

A pair of stories – one on Florence sculptor Bob Ragan and a second on artist Hank Waddell – won the feature writing category.

Photographer Alex Rubio took the top spot in Feature Photos for work at the Whimsy & Wonder Festival and Independence Day Spectacular.

The Independent also place second in Headline Writing, and third in Advertising, Column Writing, News Writing, and Page Design.

This year’s contest covered issues published between January 2018 and September 2019 and was judged by the Wisconsin Press Association.

While the recognition among other journalists is special, knowing the newspaper is a valued part of the Liberty Hill community is most important.

“We believe strongly in our mission of service to Liberty Hill and appreciate the support we receive from the community,” Wilkison said. “We are growing alongside the community, and that enables us to improve on how we report on and bring news to our readers. The outpouring of congratulations from the community over this accomplishment is something each one of us takes to heart.”

In addition to the newspaper every week, The Independent is expanding its digital presence through its website and social media. Look for more video reporting and staff-produced podcasts coming soon as the paper looks for new ways to bring news to the community.