The paper won six first places in its circulation division, including Print Journalist of the Year, in the Lone Star Awards, a statewide competition sponsored by the Houston Press Club and judged by out-of-state journalists. Staffer Peter Gorman took the reporter-of-the-year honors for, in part, his coverage of Johnson County jail conditions and a story on the tragedy of electrical company linemen who died after being sent up power poles without adequate equipment or training. His tale of a drug-dealer snitch who found himself on the run after being outed by his handlers at the Drug Enforcement Administration also took first place in the features category. Reporter Betty Brink won the public service award for her investigation into horrific conditions at Carswell’s prison hospital for women. Other firsts went to Jeff Prince for his story on the mayor’s conflicts of interest and to freelance photographer Alyssa Banta for her photo essay on Hispanic Fort Worth. Weekly editor Gayle Reaves, with Prince, also took a first place in the business news category, for a story on the severe problems being caused for homeowners and others by the drilling of gas wells.
In addition to the first places — the most of any newspaper in the state — the paper brought home second-place honors for Associate Editor Anthony Mariani in the commentary and criticism category for his review of local singer-songwriter James Michael Taylor’s most recent album; for freelancer Don Jones, in features, for his first-person story on the war in Iraq; for Prince, in public service, for coverage of North Texas’ water supply outlook; and for the team of University of North Texas students whose statewide investigation into the use and abuses of Tasers by Texas law enforcement agencies was published by the Weekly. That story also won national honors from the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization, as best student work of the year — another award presented last weekend. Third places in the Lone Star contest went to Brink, in investigative reporting, for a story on controversial reading programs, and to Gorman, in business writing, for a story on dangers faced by electrical linemen.