They give awards for newspapers?

For those of you that don’t know, the North Carolina Press Association gives newspapers the opportunity to enter for awards in a variety of categories every year.

Reporters can win awards for things like education reporting, general news, feature writing, photography, breaking news coverage.. the list goes on and on. And newspapers as a whole can win awards for community news coverage, general excellence and websites.

In February of 2014, The Daily Courier won nine awards and I got to experience my first press awards banquet. Although I didn’t win an award myself, I was able to travel to the awards ceremony with sports editor and my best friend Travis Durkee to accept the award the paper received for second place in general excellence for websites. It was a free trip, a day off work and a chance to meet people from newspapers across North Carolina.. how could I say no to that?

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The 2014 Winter Institute Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony was held in the George Watts Hill Alumni Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After I stressed for a few hours about what to wear and we stopped and had a fabulous breakfast at Ken & Mary’s in Shelby, Travis and I loaded up in my car and headed out for the almost four-hour road trip to Chapel Hill.

Just so you know, the breakfast at Ken & Mary’s really was wonderful. I haven’t been back there yet, but it is on my to-do list.

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When we arrived in Chapel Hill we tried to remain calm and collected. We didn’t want to seem like we were two unprofessional reporters, although this was a first for both of us. However, we did manage to discretely take a picture of the cow outside the center.

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As soon as we entered the area for dinner, I made a promise to myself that I was going to win a personal award the next year and return for another banquet. I kept that promise and I will write plenty about it in an upcoming blog post. 🙂

The food was great and we had time to socialize with reporters from The Shelby Star and take some pictures.

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I even took pictures of our name tags to document our first trip to the North Carolina Press Awards. It was a very exciting day after all.

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At the end of the night I was so proud of my newspaper and my coworkers. Along with the general excellence in websites, Reporter Jean Gordon won third place for her article about children being rescued from a creek and Photographer Garrett Byers won first place for general news photography for the picture that went along with that article.

Editor Matt Clark won second place in investigative reporting and second place in the arts and entertainment category.

But I was the most proud of Travis, who took home four awards. He placed first in sports news coverage, second in serious columns, third in sports columns and his group of sports writers won second place for sports coverage. His smile was contagious the whole night.

We were both all smiles as we took the professional photo after receiving the certificates and plaque for the website.

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Those nine awards were the most The Daily Courier had won since 2010. I can’t accurately describe the feeling of having your hard work recognized at an awards ceremony, but I know it’s a feeling I want to strive for every year as I’m writing for this newspaper.

The Daily Courier rocked 2014.

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