CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Journalists with newspapers in Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville, Gastonia and Henderson received top honors in the 2016 North Carolina AP News Excellence Contest Thursday.
The AP awards were presented during the annual North Carolina Press Association Winter Institute in Chapel Hill. The awards honor the best newspaper writing and editing by daily newspapers in the state in 2015.
Ely Portillo and Ames Alexander of The Charlotte Observer won the Senator Sam Award, named in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Sam Ervin for open government reporting, for their report about South Carolina’s efforts to lure away appliance maker Electrolux and the newspaper’s fight to get public documents related to the McCrory administration’s efforts to keep the company.
Taft Wireback of the Greensboro News & Record won the Thomas Wolfe Award for excellence in writing, named in honor of the Asheville novelist, for his report examining the third-largest coal ash spill in U.S. history along the Dan River.
John Boyle of the Asheville Citizen-Times and Mark Dolejs of The Daily Dispatch of Henderson each won top honors for the O. Henry Award for excellence in writing. The award is named for Greensboro native William Sydney Porter, who wrote under the pen name O. Henry. Boyle won for his report about an Army veteran who suffered PTSD and committed suicide by police and Dolejs was honored for his profile of evangelist Tony Nolan.
Katherine Peralta of The Charlotte Observer won the Walter Spearman Award for outstanding writing by a journalist with two years or less of daily newspaper experience. The award is named after a UNC Chapel Hill journalism professor. Peralta won for her report about department store chain Belk’s decision to explore selling itself and what it meant for the region.
Ragan Robinson and Adam Orr of The Gaston Gazette won the Carl K. Bell Editing Award, named after a former AP bureau chief in North Carolina, for their report about contradictory messages residents received about contaminated well water near a Duke Energy coal-fired power plant.
For a complete list of finalists, go to http://discover.ap.org/contests/north-carolina