Two Alamance News reporters have been recognized by the state press association for excellence in their writing and reporting skills.
The annual awards have historically been presented during a Winter Institute of the North Carolina Press Association, typically held in Chapel Hill or, more recently, Raleigh. This year, however, all proceedings were conducted online due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
Veteran staff writer Kristy Bailey was honored with three awards for two of her stories and reports.
Her extensive report on Alamance County’s new bail policies, developed in response to an ACLU lawsuit – entitled “What will ‘bail reform’ mean for Alamance County?” which was published August 13, 2020 – was a double winner.
In a special category, sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Association, she received the special award for “Media and the Law Awards of Excellence” among all non-daily newspapers across the state.
This award recognizes outstanding legal reporting; contest judges look for insightful coverage of law-related topics that foster greater public understanding of the legal system and the role of lawyers in today’s society.
The package of stories also won a second place honor for “news enterprise” reporting, a category intended to reward reporting that goes beyond routine reporting and demonstrates initiative and thoroughness in examining and explaining a trend, issue or social problem; contest judge consider resourcefulness, clarity and depth.
The contest judges for the news enterprise award gave the following comments: “Thorough work on an important subject in the area. Good job!”
Bailey was also recognized for her investigative reporting, “Former supt. gave out 2 raises during his last months – without board OK,” published October 17, 2019.
Bailey discovered and reported that then-superintendent Dr. William “Bill” Harrison gave raises to two employees without seeking, or obtaining, school board approval, which is contrary to the school system’s policies. Harrison had already retired from his position by the time of the discovery.
Staff writer Allison Tate was recognized with a third place award for feature writing for her story on the Bradshaw family and their role in the McCray community in northern Alamance County. The story, “Clearing for residential development reveals historical site in McCray community,” was published July 2, 2020.
See Tate’s original story here:
The story focused on the discovery, while land was being cleared for future residential construction, of a roughly century-old storehouse and smokehouse that Keith Bradshaw’s great-grandfather had built and which had been preserved as a little piece of his legacy. The great-grandfather, Samuel Bradshaw, was also instrumental in constructing the McCray School, one of the pre-integration schools for black children in the county; and his grandfather, Charlie Bradshaw, had also been instrumental in supporting the black school.
The contest judges’ comments on Tate’s piece: “The photos immediately pull the reader in and the writing does not disappoint in telling a meaningful story.”
Alamance News publisher Tom Boney, Jr. expressed pride in the work of the reporting staff.
“We believe our newspaper provides prize-winning caliber reporting for our readers each week, but it’s always nice to have a neutral party confirm it with these writing and reporting awards.
“These awards continue a long legacy of journalism excellence at The Alamance News, which has for decades repeatedly won praise at the state and national level for the quality of our paper’s reporting,” Boney said.
“In these days when so many daily newspapers have cut back their local news staffs and virtually eliminated local coverage, local news continues to be our only beat. We often say ‘if it doesn’t happen in or to someone from Alamance County, it’s not our beat’.
“The coverage increasingly sloshes across county lines, to the east and west, with Gibsonville, Burlington, and Mebane expanding their jurisdictions.”
Boney also touted the newspaper’s new website, alamancenews.com.
“As most readers know, we’ve also expanded over coverage by providing updates, breaking news, and other coverage in between print editions on our new website. That access is also a bonus for existing print subscribers.”
Except for the bar association award, which was among weekly newspapers of all sizes throughout the state, the other awards were among North Carolina’s weekly newspapers with 3,500 to 10,000 circulation that are members of the North Carolina Press Association.