The Waxahachie Daily Light newsroom has once again been recognized for excellence in journalism by peers in the media industry.

On July 1, the Daily Light newsroom received news it had been awarded nine honors in the Best of GateHouse competition, recognizing outstanding journalism published in 2014 among the 400-plus newspapers owned by GateHouse Media — which range in size from major metropolitan daily newspapers to small circulation community weekly newspapers.

The Daily Light was purchased by GateHouse in July 2014.

Best of GateHouse honors received by Daily Light staff include:

• News Writer of the Year, 2nd Place — Shelly Conlon

• Editorial Writer of the Year, 2nd Place — Neal White

• Tweeter of the Year, 2nd Place — Shelly Conlon

• Multimedia initiatives, 2nd Place — WDL Staff

• Reader Involvement, 1st Place — WDL Staff

• Social Media Project, 1st Place — WDL Staff

• Opinion Page Section, 3rd Place — Neal White

• Lifestyle Section/Page, 1st Place — Neal White, Aaron Schwaderer, Shelly Conlon

• Editor of the Year (all papers, all divisions), Honorable Mention — Neal White

In June, the Daily Light was also honored by the Texas Press Association (TPA) during its Better Newspaper Contest, recognizing excellence in Texas journalism published in 2014.

Daily Light honors from this year’s TPA Better Newspaper Contest included:

• Column Writing, 2nd Place — Neal White

• Feature Photo, 4th Place — Scott Dorsett

• News Writing, 3rd Place — Shelly Conlon

• Editorial Writing, 2nd Place — Neal White

• Advertising, 4th Place — Beth Kerr

Since 1999, Daily Light newsrooms under White’s direction have been recognized with nearly 350 honors for journalism excellence by state and national press association, include five Texas Sweepstakes awards (2005, 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2014) for being the Best Newspaper in Texas in its division, which includes all Texas daily newspapers with a circulation below 10,000.

"Our news team is, in my opinion, the best community newspaper news team in the state and one of the best in the country,” said Scott Brooks, Publisher of Waxahachie Newspapers, Inc. “I say that after having worked in newspapers across America for the past 30 years."

Brooks also recognized the accomplishments of Conlon. Not only has she been honored with her first TPA and GateHouse Media journalism awards, she was recently selected as a GateHouse Media “Rising Star.” On July 12-15, Conlon, along with 13 other “Rising Star” selectees identified as up-and-coming leaders from GateHouse newspapers, will receive specialized training during a four-day workshop.

"Shelly Conlon is excellent at what she does and she does it naturally. Her future is as bright as it gets,” Brooks said. "We are fortunate to have a committed newsroom that is diligent about accuracy, substance and presentation."

Brooks also praised the work of White. Having led multiple teams to excellence, he has also earned more than 100 individual press association awards for excellence, including a Pulitzer Prize submission for nomination consideration for his coverage of the white buffalo in 1994 while with the Beloit (Wisconsin) Daily News. Twenty years later, the two years he spent covering the buffalo and its impact on Native Americans (along with his experience of three decades as a journalist) served as the foundation for a fictional series. “Crosswinds,” the first book in the series, was published in August 2014 by The Next Chapter Publishing.

"More so than any editor I've worked with in 30-plus years, Neal deserves the recognition this award provides," Brooks said. “ ‘The Best of Gatehouse 2014’ award recognizes the two best editors out of more than 400 throughout America. We are incredibly proud of Neal for being one of them. It is a well-deserved honor for a professional who is committed to his profession in extraordinary ways."