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Observer wins 28 awards from the N.C. Press Association

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  • Observer NCPA winners

    First Place

    •  Public Service: Ames Alexander, Karen Garloch of the Observer and Joseph Neff, David Raynor of the News & Observer for “Prognosis: Profits.”

    •  Feature Writing: Mark Price for “The boy, the bomb and the new leg.”

    •  Arts & Entertainment Reporting: Mark Washburn for “Museum confronts era of lynching.”

    •  Education Reporting: Ann Doss Helms for a series on bad graduation data published by school officials.

    •  Sports Photography: David T. Foster III for “Newton targeted for bounty.”

    •  Multimedia Project: Staff for Democratic National Convention coverage.

    •  Sports Columns: Tom Sorensen on former Hornets coach Dick Harter and a mother’s love for her basketball-player son.

    •  Criticism: Lawrence Toppman for reviews about “Love, Loss and What I Wore,” “Pina,” and “Clybourne Park.”

    •  Headline Writing: Lamar Wilson for headlines on leaves, a woodworker and a bipartisan church group.

    •  Graphics: David Puckett for graphics on the S.C. Republican Primary, Little Sugar Creek and the conversion of Time Warner Cable Arena for the DNC.

    •  General Excellence for Web Sites: Staff.

    •  General Excellence for Print: Staff

    •  News Section Design: Staff.

    •  Feature Section Design: Staff.

    •  Media and the Law Awards of Excellence: Stories on Occupy Charlotte and the city by April Bethea, Steve Harrison, Steve Lyttle, Ely Portillo, Cleve Wootson, Gary L. Wright.

    Second Place

    •  Editorials: Peter St. Onge for editorials on Lowe’s and bigotry, hospitals and Amendment One.

    •  Criticism: Theoden Janes for reviews about Hollywood, country music and The Bachelorette.

    •  Best E ditorial Page: Staff.

    •  Higher Education reporting: David Perlmutt

    Third Place

    •  Arts & Entertainment Reporting: Theoden Janes on the filming of Hunger Games in Charlotte.

    •  News Enterprise Reporting: Tommy Tomlinson and Ann Doss Helms on the history of North Carolina’s eugenics program.

    •  Sports News Reporting: Ron Green Jr. on golfer Webb Simpson’s U.S. Open win.

    •  General News Photography: Jeff Siner for “800 march in Charlotte.”

    •  Serious Columns: Peter St. Onge for columns on immigration, an rare moment between school board candidates, and a CEO’s public stance on gay marriage.

    •  Appearance & Design: Staff.

    •  Best Community Coverage: Staff.

    •  Special Section: Staff for “Living Here.”

    •  Best Niche Publication: Staff for “Carolina Bride” magazine.



The Charlotte Observer won 28 awards in the annual N.C. Press Association competition onThursday – including top honors for public service journalism, general excellence for print and CharlotteObserver.com.

Other first-place finishes came in feature writing, arts and entertainment reporting, education reporting, sports photography and columns, criticism, headlines, graphics, design, and a multimedia project during the Democratic National Convention.

The Observer also won the N.C. Bar Association’s Media and the Law Award. The staff entry included eight stories that chronicled the struggle between Occupy Charlotte and city authorities to strike a balance between the right to free assembly and the need to protect property and keep the peace.

In a separate contest, the Associated Press selected the Observer for the Senator Sam Open Government Award. Steve Harrison, Jim Morrill, and Gary L.Wright won for stories on the secrecy surrounding how officials were spending $50 million in federal security funds received for the DNC. At one point, city officials cited national security issues to conceal the color they intended to paint a new command center.

In public service, the Observer and the News & Observer of Raleigh were honored for a 2012 investigative series on nonprofit hospitals. The series, called “Prognosis: Profits,” explored the profitability of charitable hospitals, highlighted huge executive salaries, and reported on thousands of lawsuits filed by hospitals against delinquent patients. Later stories revealed how hospitals marked up the price of cancer drugs as much as 50 times over cost, and showed how prices soar when hospitals take ownership of independent doctor’s offices.

Ames Alexander and Karen Garloch of the Observer and News & Observer reporters Joseph Neff and David Raynor reported and wrote the series.

Ann Doss Helms won first place for a series of stories that exposed the faulty data published by Charlotte- Mecklenburg schools about graduation-track students. CMS numbers showed 98 percent of all high school students on track to graduate on time. After repeated questions from Helms, the true calculation came to 75 percent. The CMS administrator in charge of progress reports resigned after the stories.

In feature writing, Mark Price won first for “The boy, the bomb and the new leg,” which told the story of a young Afghan boy who came to the Charlotte area for a custom-made prosthetic after an improvised explosive device cost him his real one at age 6.

Mark Washburn won first in arts & entertainment reporting for a story on the Levine Museum of the New South’s controversial exhibit on lynching in America and the Carolinas.

Tom Sorensen won first place for exploring the complex feelings of Charlotte’s most successful high school baseball coach as he faced cutting kids from his team.

David T. Foster III’s won first for sports photography for a photo of Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton.

Lawrence Toppman took first in arts criticism for reviews, including one on the comedy-drama “Clybourne Park,” which explores two generations, 50 years apart, occupying a house in a Chicago neighborhood.

David Perlmutt won second place in the annual Duke University/Green-Rossiter competition for distinguished stories about higher education.

The Observer won three second-place awards and nine thirds. The Observer competes in the category for the state’s biggest newspapers.

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