North Carolina Health News won 17 awards Thursday night during the North Carolina Press Association’s annual awards ceremony, including third place for general excellence among online-only new sites. Four of the awards were first-place prizes.
The total means NC Health News was the most-honored online publication in the state.
The Press Association honored work published from Oct. 1, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2022. The 2021 ceremony was canceled because of the pandemic.
This year, there were more than 4,200 entries submitted by more than 125 newspapers and news organizations for the editorial and advertising contest. NC Health News was judged among its peers in online-only news organizations.
“I’m so proud to work with such a talented and dedicated team,” said Rose Hoban, NC Health News founder and editor. “Every day, they wow me with their smarts and their drive to find the deeper stories and to tell them well.”
Hoban said she’s particularly excited about two of the prizes, which are going to reporters who were interns at the time.
“The health reporting corps has been hollowed out by layoffs and buyouts over the past 15 years,” Hoban added. “We see it as part of our mission to train the next generation of health reporters.”
Winner Mariama Jallow, an intern in the fall of 2021 and the spring of 2022, is now pursuing a master’s degree at the Columbia Journalism School in New York City, while Chiung-Wei Huang, who worked with NC Health News while finishing her doctorate in analytical chemistry at UNC Chapel Hill, recently completed her reporting fellowship with the American Association for the Advancement of Science at the News & Observer.
The NC Health News team won first place for education reporting with four stories about how COVID-19 created learning gaps and challenges for teachers, parents and students. The stories were written by Anne Blythe, former intern Chiung-Wei Huang, Taylor Knopf and Melba Newsome.
Greg Barnes won two first-place awards, one in the best ledes category and another in the news enterprise category for stories on environmental justice. His winning stories are about a Greensboro park built on top of a landfill and environmental racism, veterans petitioning for a health registry for Camp Lejeune toxic water victims, and a federal court ruling buoying the hopes of mostly Black low-income neighbors of Smithfield Foods hog farms who’ve been battling the industry giant for years about how they manage their waste. His winning ledes were from the same three stories.
Anne Blythe won first place for beat feature reporting with a couple of oral health stories, one about the jaw-clenching year that dentists dealt with in 2020 and another about teledentistry becoming legal in North Carolina.
The team won eight second-place awards.
Anne Blythe, Rose Hoban and Shelbi Polk won second place in General News Reporting for a series of posts from Coronavirus Today. The team produced more than 150 of the stories, a product developed to keep readers updated on briefings by the governor, the secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services and others with key details about North Carolina’s response to the SARS CoV2 pandemic.
Former NC Health News Report for America corps member Hannah Critchfield won two second- place awards, one for election and political reporting on voting in jails. You can revisit her jail stories here and here. She also won second place with Rose Hoban for beat feature reporting for stories dissecting the abortion debate in North Carolina.
Former Wake Forest University intern Mariama Jallow won second place for profile features with her story about Muhammad Siddiqui, who survived 9/11 but could not beat COVID-19.
Taylor Knopf won two second-place prizes. Her extensive reporting on people in mental health crises seeking help and ending up in handcuffs was recognized in the investigative reporting category. You can revisit her award-winning articles here. In the arts and entertainment category, she was awarded a prize for a story on the therapeutic power of art in mental health recovery.
The NC Health News team won four third places overall.
Clarissa Donnelly-DeRoven won third place in beat feature reporting for stories on the precipitous climb in drug overdoses in North Carolina and the country during the pandemic and barriers to treatment.
The NC Health News’ new online interview series, Health Care Half Hour, won third place in the multimedia projects category.