The award is presented “for outstanding achievement in the South Texas Press Association Better Newspaper Contest” and to recognize individuals who excel in their field. The honorees were kept secret until awards luncheon at noon on Friday. STPA added the Journalist of the Year category this year.
“I’m truly surprised and honored by this award,” Nelson said. “When peers single out your work, nothing is more fulfilling.”
Nelson was judged in four writing categories including news, feature, sports and column.
“Very fresh style,” the judges wrote. “Great content and research. Great photos accompany stories. Interesting. County Lines column was excellent - emotional. Great!”
The judges’ comments referred to a June 3, 2010, news story, “Loaded automatic assault weapons at Bayside pot-growing operation stuns sheriff’s office,” and a Jan. 21, 2010, news story, “Gilliam will stay on as reserve officer.”
The judges also commented on a feature story in the July 1, 2010, issue, “Land of the free, home of the brave,” about World War II veteran Lewis Kilgore; and a story in Nelson’s County Lines column, “A glorious Father’s Day to all the daddies out there.”
Nelson began working at the County Press in 1998 and was selected as editor in September 2003 by Co-Publishers Jeff and Chip Latcham of Bee Publishing Co.
“We are so pleased for Kenda. She always does a wonderful job of covering her community and is very deserving of this new award,” Chip Latcham said.
“Working with publishers who have been in the business for generations sets the bar high,” Nelson said. “They support our work and the communities we serve. It just doesn’t get any better than that.”
In addition to the Journalist of the Year honors, Nelson also received a number of other awards in STPA’s Better Newspaper Contest including third place in news story, news photo, and feature story.
In two news stories about a drug bust in Bayside, and a reserve officer hired in Woodsboro the judges wrote:
“Assault weapon: Good story, well organized. Reserve officer: We always like a good story slamming another newspaper. Fun! Actually looks like a good story. Strong use of quotes.”
Nelson also placed third in news photos for a story about a Tivoli man killed by a falling building and photos of a drug bust in Bayside.
“Dec. 9 - Good photo. Kinda grainy. Would make larger. June 3: nice photo. Good technique. Good shot.”
Nelson’s third-place story on the World War II veteran’s 90th birthday drew these comments: “Nice use of photos and graphics. Interesting feature for Independence Day.”
Regarding a story in the May 13, 2010, issue on “The great unresolved bank heist of 1932,” the judges wrote, “Interesting bit of history.”
Andy Pate also won a third place for editorial writing on “Who did away with ‘Pucho... do we need to bring ‘Pucho’ back?” and “Refugio: For what is the town best known?”
The County Press also won third place for community coverage; and honorable mention for sports pages.
STPA members from 36 newspapers attended this year’s convention and 29 journalists were judged for the Journalist of the Year award in three categories based on size.