These are tough times to be in journalism. Newspapers are being bought by chains intent on maximizing profits at the expense of coverage and courage. That causes them to lose readers, feeding a vicious cycle as those papers then cut and pander in desperation.
So it was refreshing to attend the N.C. Press Association's awards ceremony last week in Chapel Hill. Local papers did well and reminded us of the important work they're doing--from The Chapel Hill News' coverage of UNC's expansion plans to The N&O's investigation into prosecutorial misconduct to The Herald-Sun's reporting on higher education issues. All were first-place winners. Most inspiring was the Winston-Salem Journal's Public Service Award for the investigation that freed Darryl Hunt after 19 years in jail, exposing the racism and injustice that too often can be found in the state's criminal justice system.
We were proud to be among the award winners last week for our work in the year ending last October. Several of our awards--including our top winner--were for the way we look, which was appropriate for a year in which we spent much of our energy redesigning the paper. Art Director Liz Holm was the designer behind our new look, working with Editorial Designer Kelly Lojk, Production Manager Maria Bilinski Shain and the rest of the staff to develop the Indy into the good-looking paper in your hands today. Congratulations to them and all our prize winners. They were:
1st place, Appearance and Design. The judges said: "Strongest design of all papers [in the category]. Clean, attractive cover. Nice use of headline fonts, screen boxes and photos. Nice use of sidebars for main story. Easy to readÉ"
1st place, Photo Illustration, York Wilson for "Copywrong" (Dec. 3, 2003). The judges said: "Fantastic concept is extremely well executedÉ"
2nd place, Feature Writing, Fiona Morgan for "Paper mommies and friendly lawsuits" (June 9, 2004). The judges said: "Good, very timely story. Nice anecdotes and factual info about what gay/lesbian parents faceÉ"
3rd place, News Enterprise Reporting, Barbara Solow and Cat Warren for "Academia Under Siege" (March 31, 2004).
3rd place, Feature Photography, Lissa Gotwals for "Fashion 2004" (July 28, 2004). The judges said: "Interesting set-up/composition gives this subject what it needs to draw your eye."
3rd place, Editorials, Kirk Ross. The judges said: "These have a real personal touch, strong sense of place, in a way that makes it easy to relate to local issues and concerns."
Last week I misspelled the name of N&O publisher Orage Quarles III. I have already extended an apology, and he accepted with grace and wit.