The North Carolina Press Association recognized Coastal Review Online Friday with nine awards, including a first-place award for public service and a second-place award for general excellence.
The nonprofit association announced the awards during the news, editorial and photojournalism contest awards ceremony that was part of its annual convention, which was held virtually this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, rather than the in-person event typically held in Raleigh or Chapel Hill. Awards were presented to newspaper and online journalists from across the state. Shannon Vickery, director of sponsorships at UNC-TV, hosted the awards presentation video.
Coastal Review Online staff, reporters and photographers competed in the online-only division of the association’s annual competition. This year’s entries were judged by the West Virginia Press Association. The contest was for stories and photography published between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020.
Among the awards for the nonprofit news publication’s work were four first-place awards, including the Public Service Award for the Changing Minds on Climate Science series. The multipart series was supported by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting as part of its Connected Coastlines nationwide climate reporting initiative.
The series examines how attitudes toward climate science have evolved during the past decade among people who call eastern North Carolina home and the lives affected by storms scientists say were made more severe by the warming atmosphere. The reports bring into perspective the recent pattern of record-breaking hurricanes, Matthew, Florence and Dorian, and the lives affected, along with other changes, such as saltwater intrusion, sunny-day flooding, economic disruption and soaring infrastructure costs. The series also examines the government response, particularly at the state and local levels.
Staff also received the first-place award for appearance and design and second-place awards for community coverage and general excellence, behind Bladen Online and Carolina Public Press, respectively. Coastal Review was also recognized with a third-place award for general excellence for websites, behind the Ocracoke Observer and Carolina Public Press.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation launched Coastal Review Online in 2012 in response to declining media coverage of coastal environmental news in North Carolina.
“Here at the Coastal Federation we’re extremely proud of the work and reach of our staff and writers who produce Coastal Review Online,” said Todd Miller, the federation’s executive director. “Last year our award-winning reporting reached over 750,000 viewers, and we keep coastal residents and visitors informed about the wonders and needs of our spectacular coastline.”
The daily news service employs two full-time staff with freelance contributors covering the North Carolina coast, its environment, culture and history, and the issues that affect its residents.
“I’m proud that our team has been recognized by our peers for their hard work and solid journalism,” said Coastal Review Online Editor Mark Hibbs. “And there’s no greater honor than having our work judged a service to the coastal communities we cover. It’s why we do this.”
Jennifer Allen won first place in investigative reporting on a special report on COVID-19 and the Waste Stream. The series looks at how the measures put in place in March to curb the spread of COVID-19 changed how North Carolinians consume and dispose of waste. The first in a series details how Ocean Friendly Establishments coordinators continue to encourage using reusables safely when possible. The second hears how cleanup organizers, who have noticed an increase in COVID-19 related litter, adjusted to coronavirus precautions in order to continue to combat debris. The third covers the changes waste and recycling organization representatives have seen in what and how residential customers are recycling since the stay-at-home order was put in place this March. The report also examines how educational institutions and environmental organizations are working amid the restrictions.
Judges said of the series, “Very enlightening on how COVID-19 harms in other ways by adding to pollution. It enlightens citizens how their habits can either contribute to the country’s waste problem or help alleviate it and shows how restaurants have to decide if they can remain eco-conscious and profitable at the same time. Good angle at the COVID-19 problem.”
Hibbs was recognized with the Media and the Law Awards of Excellence sponsored by North Carolina Bar Association for a series of stories on private property rights versus North Carolina’s coastal regulatory authority. This award recognizes outstanding coverage of law-related topics “that foster greater public understanding of the legal system and the role of lawyers in today’s society.” Only one of these awards was presented in each division.
Hibbs also won a second-place award for headline writing.
Jared Lloyd received a second-place award for spot photography for his images from a November 2019 nor’easter.
The association is a member-owned and operated nonprofit group established in 1873 that works to protect the people’s right to know through the defense of open government and First Amendment freedoms and advocates for public access to local, state and federal governments. 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.
Coastal Review Online has been a member of the North Carolina Press Association since 2013.