Led by Steve McVicker, Houston Press writers swept four of five first-place awards for newspapers with circulations of more than 100,000 in the Houston Press Club's 1995 Excellence in Journalism Awards.
McVicker was named "print journalist of the year," a new competition the Press Club established this year in its reconfiguring of contest categories following the April 1995 demise of the Houston Post. McVicker's entry consisted of "The Killer Behind the Badge," his January 12 story exploring how convicted murderer Joseph Kent McGowen was able to be hired as a Harris County Sheriff's deputy, despite past troubles at other law enforcement agencies; "Mad Dog's Demise," his June 15 story chronicling the strange life and unsolved death of Houston police Lieutenant Alan Mabry; and "Castrate Me, Please," his August 24 profile of imprisoned sex offender Larry Don McQuay, who had sued the state of Texas to force it to castrate him.
Taking first place in the feature story category was Randall Patterson for "It's Only Money," his June 20 profile of a Houston couple who won the second-largest jackpot in the history of the Texas lottery. The contest judges said the subjects "came alive, warm and richly drawn, in this skillfully done story. Best of all, the story was simply fun to read."
Tim Fleck captured first in the investigative reporting category for his October 12 story "Mad Science," which explored the Harris County Psychiatric Hospital's drug treatment of manic-depressive patients by a doctor who was also manic-depressive.
The commentary and criticism category was won by Press editor Jim Simmon, for his August 24 column "Beat It, Bud," which the judges called "funny and bitterly sarcastic about Bud Adams' motivations in trying to extort a new stadium" from Houston. Finishing second was film critic Edith Sorenson for "Naked for Nothing," her October 5 review of the movie Showgirls.
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The winners in the business story category were Kate Thomas and Matt Schwartz of the late Post for their story revealing the poor record-keeping on the proliferation of tax abatements granted by governments in Harris County.