The Commerce Journal was awarded a first-place prize and several top-three nods in the Northeast Texas Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.

The Journal was entered into the contest’s Small Weeklies division.

Headlining the awards was the paper’s first-place honors for News Writing for its story regarding the closing of the Campbell United Methodist Church last year, with the judges saying about reporter Ryan Scott: “[He] delivers just plain good old, no-nonsense news writing. Solid style and mechanics. His story of the little church closing its doors was very well done. I liked the way he gave it a perspective with the national trends that show some complexity.”

The paper also finished second in the General Excellence category, with a judge saying that the Journal “may seem like a small paper. But I give it high marks for doing a list of things right in a big way. Great design and stories that are well written. And they aren’t afraid to take chances on a different look i.e. the ‘play day’ front page.” The Journal’s sister paper, the Royse City Herald-Banner, won first-place in that category.

Rounding out the accolades for the Journal were third place in Feature Writing, third place in News Photo, third place in Feature Photo, fifth place in Sweepstakes, and Scott was given fourth place in the Journalist of the Year competition.

Publisher Lisa Chappell said she is very proud of the Herald-Banner news team and their consistent dedication to quality community journalism.

“The entire staff of Herald-Banner Publications earns these awards every day with their commitment to keeping our readers informed and connected,” she said. “Though awards are not our top goal, it is certainly wonderful for our news staff to receive such high praise and recognition from their peers in the news industry.”

The Greenville Herald-Banner, which also falls under the Herald-Banner Publications stable with the Journal, took home several awards as well.

Following are all 2019 NETPA Better Newspaper Contest awards for Herald-Banner Publications:

Commerce Journal (small weeklies division)

1st News Writing – Ryan Scott

2nd General Excellence

3rd Feature Writing — Ryan Scott

3rd News Photo — Ryan Scott

3rd Feature Photo — Ryan Scott

4th Journalist of the Year – Ryan Scott

5th Sweepstakes

Greenville Herald-Banner (daily newspapers division)

1st General Excellence

2nd Feature Photo – Brad Kellar

3rd Journalist of the Year – Hojun Choi

4th Sports Writing – David Claybourn

5th Sweepstakes Winner

Royse City Herald-Banner (small weeklies division)

1st General Excellence

2nd News Writing

6th Sweepstakes