VMS receives nod for top newspaper

HARLINGEN — The Valley Morning Star can be considered one of the best newspapers in Texas after its first-place general excellence award in its division in the 2017 Texas Press Association’s Better Newspaper Competition.

Besides the first-place award for general excellence in division two, the Star also received third place for feature writing.

“We don’t do our work for awards. We do it to keep our community informed, educated and entertained,” Valley Morning Star Editor Lisa Seiser said.

“However, being honored with the top general excellence award in our division confirms our efforts are appreciated and aren’t going unnoticed.”

The Star will receive a plaque for its first-place recognition in the competition.

Second- through fourth-place winners receive certificates.

The Better Newspaper Contest is a competition held by the Texas Press Association every year.

This year, 143 newspapers submitted more than 1,000 entries to the contest.

The contest was judged by newspaper members of the Louisiana Press Association.

In the general excellence category, the judge from Louisiana looked at full editions of the newspapers in circulation categories.

In the second-highest circulation division, the VMS was the top winner, beating out such newspapers as the Galveston County Daily News, New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, Paris News, Kerrville Daily Times, Port Arthur News and Tyler Morning Telegraph.

According to the judge, it was a tough decision.

“Newspapers at this level in the state of Texas are some of the best in America,” the judge stated in the comments of the top award.

“All the entries were outstanding and a pleasure to judge.”

The judge went on to state about the VMS, “This has to be some of the toughest competition in America and you are the best. Keep up the great work.”

Among the full editions submitted for the award included the October front page with the feature package, “Who killed Candy?” written by News Editor Ed Asher.

Another edition submitted for July was about Adolph Thomae Park, written by reporter Rick Kelley.

But, that wasn’t the only recognition for the VMS in the annual awards.

The Star was selected as a third-place recipient in feature writing for a pair of stories written by Seiser and Kelley.

The writing submitted were Seiser’s December 2016 story about Erick Diaz’s journey from Cuba to America and Kelley’s October 2016 story about bird kill worries due to the wind turbines in the county.

“The editorial staff works very hard each day to produce the best paper we can,” Seiser said. “We work holidays, weekends and late nights to give the community the information they deserve. I am proud of what we do every day.”

These awards follow several others the VMS received from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors a few months ago.

But Seiser was quick to point out, this award is even more special because it is about the overall newspaper produced by the staff every day.

“This award is a culmination of our efforts to be more creative and innovative, while also keeping our traditions alive,” Seiser said about the general excellence honor.

“This is something everyone in the building and in the community should be proud of. We can’t do any of it without you all.”