We didn’t start publishing the Advocate seven years ago with the goal of winning journalism awards.

Awards are nice, of course, but trying to responsibly produce a publication that people enjoy reading and that attempts to provide a community service each month is more important to me.

But it’s still satisfying when we are recognized by our peers for doing a good job not only in our own backyard, but also when compared with community publications throughout Texas. 

That’s why I must admit to a certain amount of parental pride after the Advocate recently was named the best community publication in Texas by the Texas Community Newspaper Association following a statewide awards competition.

I’ll let the judges tell you what they thought about the Advocate: “Knowing where to begin praising this publication is not the problem – it’s where to end; masterful use of process color, noteworthy prose, intriguing subject matter, and on, and on.”

Also, “the glorious cover art promises a lot, and the news/editorial content delivers on that promise. When even your table of contents is fashioned into an interesting feature, you have accomplished something terrific.”

One of the judges aptly referred to our conversion last fall from a tabloid newspaper to our current magazine-style format: “Daring format changes make dazzling impression! It gives new meaning to the word “transmogrification.”

I’ll have to confess that I needed a dictionary to figure out what was being said here, but “transmogrification” refers to the process of making a complete transformation.

And believe me, during the excruciating process of changing from a tabloid newspaper to a magazine-style format, many a word (some comprised of four letters) was used by staff members and advertisers alike, but to my knowledge, “transmogrification” was not one of them.

Most of the credit for our successful transformation goes to Niki Gulley, our creative director and principal designer. Very little happens at the Advocate that she doesn’t have her talented hands on, and we are fortunate to have her working with us.

Credit also goes to TravelHost, which prints the Advocate and more than 100 of its own city magazines distributed in hotels throughout the country and whose chief executive, Jim Buerger, lives in our neighborhood. Buerger and the TravelHost staff have gone the extra mile in helping us successfully make the transition.

Another satisfying aspect of this statewide competition was our showing in the “advertising” portion of the contest. We picked up 11 awards in the advertising competition, which is dedicated to producing results for advertisers, whose support makes it possible for 125,000 neighborhood residents to read the Advocate free-of-charge each month.

We were awarded first place in five advertising categories, including Best Ad Series (Doctors Hospital’s sponsorship of our annual Advocate Interview), Best Original Ad/Multi-Color (Picture Perfect’s Easter promotion), Best Original Ad/One Color (ST Cafe’s New Year’s Eve promotion), and Best Original Ad/Black & White (Whiteside Realtor’s top agent promotion and the Old Town Shopping Center’s holiday promotion). We aren’t resting on our laurels, however.

This month, for example, we’re experimenting with a new printing process to increase the number of full-color advertisements and photos you’ll find in each month’s Advocate. If it works, look for a more colorful Advocate beginning next month.

All in all, it’s hard not to feel a little puffed up about our magazines this month. So I hope you’ll indulge me this month as we publish the accompanying picture of some of the Advocate staff and a few of our awards.

We’re by no means perfect, and we make our share of big and little mistakes each month. But all in all, I’m proud to work with these dedicated people to produce and deliver our neighborhood publication to you each month.