SI takes home N.C. press honor

Staff reports
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The Sampson Independent took home another award in recognition of journalism excellence, honored as part of the North Carolina Press Association’s annual convention and awards ceremony.

The award, a third place distinction in the category of Community Coverage, was bestowed in Division D, encompassing all N.C. daily newspapers under 12,500 circulation. For consideration, participating newspapers had to select two complete editions within a given month — November 2016 or June 2017, not both — to be judged in their entirety.

“This category recognizes what only great news organizations do — reporting news that matters locally to readers and chronicles the essence of their community,” a NCPA description of the category read.

The Independent submitted its Nov. 2 and Nov. 23, 2016 editions.

Within those editions, judges evaluated coverage of local schools and education issues; human events, people, places, festivals, celebrations, reunions; aspects of local health and medical care; the arts including music, drama, theater, art and dance in the community; coverage of religion in the community; and community history and retrospectives.

Those judging entries credited The Independent not only with its staff-generated content and a varying array of community news, but the local columns and perspectives packaged by staffers as provided from area contributors.

“Solid mix of local content spread throughout,” one judge stated of the Independent’s November 2016 editions. “Features such as road closing, community listings help show commitment to providing information readers need. Great way to add to local content with guest/freelance columnist.”

The Independent was third in the category behind first place Elizabeth City Daily Advance and second place Morganton News Herald.

NCPA members convened in record numbers Feb. 21-23 in Raleigh leading up to the awards ceremony. Starting with a packed room for the annual legislative breakfast to an evening awards banquet with over 400 attendees, the 144th annual convention at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley was deemed “the widest attended event in recent NCPA history.”

The N.C. Press award brings the Independent’s total to 13 in the past four years, seven for the editorial department and six for the advertising department recognizing excellence in print and online journalism and advertising.

“I am thrilled that the N.C. Press Association and its judges recognize the hard work of an outstanding editorial department whose focus remains on providing local news coverage,” SI Publisher/Editor Sherry Matthews stated. “It is always rewarding to have someone acknowledge the hard work your staff puts into the newspaper every day.”

Matthews said of all the press award categories, winning in the Community Coverage division, for which they took home a first place honor in 2015, was the most special. “We are a community newspaper and my entire editorial team believes in providing the local content that readers want and need from their local, daily newspaper. The award is just icing on the cake for a job very well done.

“This honor goes to my managing editor Chris Berendt, staff writers Kristy Carter and Chase Jordan and a sports staff led by Michael Hardison. I have always known we have a special team of writers who are devoted to coverage of this community; it’s very satisfying to have others see that, too.”

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Staff reports