Two Houston Press writers received first-place honors in a two-state First Amendment Awards contest sponsored by the Fort Worth chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Former staffer Sarah Fenske won for her feature "Black and White" in the category of Use of Public Records: General News. The category recognizes "investigative stories that make exemplary use of public records." Her story investigated whether African-American deputies are being treated fairly in the Harris County Sheriff's Department.
Editor Margaret Downing won for "A Closer Look at Dillard's" in the Opening the Books category, for stories that use business or government records to investigate corporate practices. Her story examined five customer deaths at Dillard's stores. The stores have been criticized for allegedly racist policies and use of off-duty law enforcement officers as security guards.
The contest drew newspaper entries from throughout Texas and Oklahoma.