Bethany Erickson Won a Hugh Aynesworth Award for Texas Journalism on Saturday

Bethany Erickson, Audience Engagement Director at CandysDirt.com, accepts the Hugh Aynesworth Award for Texas Journalism from Bobbie Wygant.

When Bethany Erickson agreed to join the CandysDirt.com staff as a part-time freelancer instead of an occasional columnist, I knew that the Candy’s Media brand was building the kind of momentum we needed to make waves in North Texas. Since I joined Candy in 2012, we’ve steadily increased our audience, but last year we proved that we were ready for a bigger pond, attracting the kinds of talented journalists that tell the kinds of stories that make real waves of change. Since then, Erickson has netted a Gold Award for Best Series from the National Association of Real Estate Editors, and now she lays claim to a Hugh Aynesworth Award for Texas Journalism in the editorial opinion/digital news category for her column “And Now, the Hard Work of Righting Dallas’ Racial Wrongs Actually Begins.” 

I don’t know what was more exciting for Erickson — receiving an award for her work that put CandysDirt.com on the same ladder rung as some of the biggest media brands in our state, or receiving that award from none other than Bobbie Wygant, who told us at the Dec. 1 ceremony that she just celebrated her 92nd birthday. Altogether, Wygant has 70 years of TV experience under her belt, and is a local media treasure if there ever was one.

Erickson has become a staff resource for how education and race affect real estate and neighborhoods, proving the inextricable link between quality education and affordable housing with a robust real estate market. She wrote her award-winning column on the day that the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees voted to change the names of district campuses that lauded Confederate generals. The change was not without unveiled conflict, as the comments sections ably illustrated. But Erickson made a point that was impossible to ignore and worthy of recognition:

I think for many, the current racial rhetoric and hate speech that seems to willingly and easily appear in even the most casual conversation these days comes as a surprise.

“We had a black president!” some say. “How did we move backward?”

Friends, we didn’t move backward. If anything, we haven’t been paying attention, and much like a person who falls asleep in a canoe and wakes up miles downstream facing unexpected rapids, we allowed ourselves to enjoy the beauty of being white and privileged to lull us into thinking the scenery, the gentle lap of the river against our boat, was experienced by everyone.

Difficult pill to swallow for some, but it’s medicine like this that will cure the body politic, in my opinion.

We’re also thrilled that Erickson was a Hugh Aynesworth Award finalist in the Public Service category for her column “Dallas ISD’s Needs Won’t Disappear, But You Can Help.” Erickson spent hours upon hours curating a list of needs from some of the neediest Dallas ISD campuses from their DonorsChoose.org campaigns following a failed attempt at a Tax Ratification Election. It’s worth noting that Erickson covered this topic over the last year down to the last detail and the TRE was on the ballot and approved by voters in November of this year. 

It was an incredible evening to recognize how local media has shaped the city over the past 12 months, and Byron Harris did a fantastic job filling in for WFAA’s John McCaa, who was tied up covering the passing of former President George H.W. Bush. The archivists at the Dallas Press Club unearthed a clip from George and Barbara during a roast of George W. Bush held by the DPC back when they did the Man of the Year, while he was governor. 

It was also fantastic to see CandysDirt.com as a bit of couture! 

The newsprint dresses were the brainchild of Jan Strimple and costumer William Peck, for the Galleria. Model: Laura Persons with Campbell Wagner Runway.

We couldn’t be more proud of Bethany and the hard work she has put in since joining the Candy’s Media team. Congratulations on your new hardware!

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