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Coastal Review Online Wins 14 Press Awards

RALEIGH – Coastal Review Online received 14 awards Thursday from the North Carolina Press Association for our news coverage and photography of the state’s coastal environmental issues. Included was a third-place award among online-only publications for general excellence.

The winners were announced during the news, editorial and photojournalism contest awards ceremony that was part of the association’s annual Winter Institute, a conference held this year at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel in the state’s capital.

On hand at the North Carolina Press Association awards banquet were CRO editor Mark Hibbs, left, Trista Talton, Catherine Kozak, Sam Bland, former CRO editor Frank Tursi, Kirk Ross and Ashita Gona. Photo: Vicki Hibbs

CRO writers and photographers competed against others across the state for the second year in the online-only division of the association’s annual competition. Among the awards for the nonprofit news publication’s work were seven first-place awards, including one for overall design. CRO, which is published daily, Monday-Friday, by the North Carolina Coastal Federation, also received two second-place awards and three third-place awards.

More than 100 news organizations participated in this year’s awards, submitting a total of about 3,900 entries. Judges from press associations in New York, Pennsylvania and Minnesota decided on the winning entries.

Sandra Hurley, a senior vice president of sales and marketing of Civitas Media and presenter at the ceremony, said the four competing online publications were held to the highest standards.

She added during the ceremony that the judges for the category were “were surprised with the talent they found in North Carolina.”

North Carolina Health News took home the number one spot for general excellence in the online category, while North Carolina Policy Watch came away with second.

The association is a member-owned and operated nonprofit group established to protect First Amendment freedoms, promote the business interests of North Carolina newspapers and maintain high standards in the industry. Members include daily and community newspapers and special interest publications; online news publications; those who provide equipment, supplies, growth opportunities and materials to the industry; and those who generally support newspaper interests. It is the only newspaper industry trade group in the state.

CRO has been an association member since 2013.

The honors recognized the CRO team’s work covering the North Carolina coast’s environmental issues, history and culture. Contest entries are judged by members of other states’ press associations.

“This kind of recognition among our peers for what is still a relatively new model for delivering news content is encouraging,” said CRO editor Mark Hibbs. “I’m proud of our team, which is mostly freelancers with years of experience in newspaper reporting, and the quality journalism each of our reporters produce. Many of our talented writers have been with CRO since its beginning.”

The Coastal Federation launched CRO in February 2012 as an experiment to fill the gap in the coverage of coastal environmental issues created by downsizing in the traditional media.

CRO follows accepted journalistic principles of fairness and balance and, although we have an advocacy organization as our publisher, our team always strives for unbiased, accurate reporting,” Hibbs said.

As CRO founding editor Frank Tursi noted following the press association awards last year, “At CRO we still cling to the old-fashioned notion that if you give them all the facts, readers are smart enough to come to their own conclusions.”

Among the honors were two awards for both Sam Bland and Jared Lloyd for their photography and articles on coastal life and nature. This included two first-place awards to Lloyd for photography and feature reporting.

Hibbs received a first-place award for his three-part special report exploring the Brunswick County town of Navassa’s long history of industrial pollution, how it has affected town residents and what the future may hold as the contamination is addressed.

First-place awards also went to CRO reporters Catherine Kozak in the category of general news reporting; Brad Rich for feature writing; and Trista Talton for city/county government reporting.

CRO’s breaking-news coverage of the North Carolina General Assembly’s creation of an environmental policy center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill was also recognized, with writer Kirk Ross receiving a third-place award for his work.

Here is the full list of winners and their respective categories:

First Place

Second Place

Third Place

About the Author

Ashita Gona

Ashita Gona, formerly Coastal Review Online’s assistant editor, is now a freelance writer living in Cary. A graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism, she spent her time in college focusing on communicating science and environmental issues. She has previously written for Endeavors, UNC-Chapel Hill’s official research magazine, and has interned at a nonprofit communications agency and the White House.