02/18/11 — News-Argus takes home honors at state contest

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News-Argus takes home honors at state contest

By From staff reports
Published in News on February 18, 2011 1:46 PM

CHAPEL HILL -- Members of the News-Argus staff brought four writing awards back to Wayne County Thursday evening, as the North Carolina Press Association announced the results of its 2010 News, Editorial and Photojournalism Contest.

The newspaper's 2010 Progress Edition, "The Next 10 Years," also was honored, receiving second place in the special section category.

This year's winners, judges said, stood out among more than 4,000 entries and include:

* "Guilty; life," 1st place, Online Breaking News. This package, written by Kenneth Fine and shot by Molly Flurry, was produced both inside the Wayne County Courthouse and on the facility's front steps during and immediately after ex-Marine Cesar Laurean was convicted of the first-degree murder of Maria Lauterbach. "This is elegant work from the courtroom and from the courthouse steps on a trial that gained national attention," the judge wrote. "Goldsboro wins not because it had the most stuff, but because it had timely information presented in words, live-blog and video in a way that was easy for its Web-surfers to use."

* "Cherry Hospital -- The Rest of the Story," 1st place, News Enterprise Reporting. This three-part news series, written and researched by Assistant News Editor Matthew Whittle, focused on the working conditions and staff safety at Cherry Hospital -- the number of injuries suffered by nurses and other frontline staff at the state psychiatric facility -- and was published just months before ground was broken on a new 316-bed hospital. In the stories, the nurses, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, talked about the dangers they face every day and hospital and state Department of Health and Human Services officials also had the opportunity to respond, saying they believed conditions were improving and that as long as staff make an effort to follow proper procedure they won't be punished. The judge characterized Whittle's work as "a complex story on state mental health examined from all sides and understandably written."

* "This time, it's for Don," 2nd place, Profile Feature Writing. This story, written by Kenneth Fine, introduced the paper's readership to a local businessman who, Fine discovered, really needed no introduction. Judges were touched when they learned that when local florist Don Worley was diagnosed with leukemia, the community he has loved so well since the day he opened his shop's doors more than 30 years ago stood beside him. "A very good profile of a man who has spent the past 30 years of his life giving to others -- and now finds himself in a position where the community can give back to him," the judge wrote. "The story reminded this judge of the good in people."

* "City on the ball"; "GHS at risk;"; Above the law?" 3rd place, Editorials. Editor Renee Carey brought home an award for her thoughts on a variety of issues, including former county Commission Chairman Jack Best's defiance of the state Open Meetings Law, Goldsboro High School's future and the Goldsboro City Council's dog waste ordinance.

The newsroom, however, were not the only ones honored.

Earlier in the day, News-Argus Publisher Hal Tanner III was named NCPA's new vice president, preparing him to serve as president of the organization in the future -- a leadership position that his father and grandfather have both held.

Tanner said he is honored to represent newspapers across the state and added that he will continue to fight to safeguard the public's right to know.

"Newspapers are a vital part of any community," he said. "We ensure politicians are acting in the public's best interest, celebrate our communities and speak up when we see something that needs to be addressed. I am proud to be a part of making sure newspapers remain a vital part of North Carolina's future."