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The Observer News Enterprise received four awards in the North Carolina Press Association's annual editorial competition.
Among awards officially announced by the NCPA on Thursday was a first-place award for news features for The O-N-E writer Nash Dunn's two-part examination of homelessness in Catawba County, "Voices unheard." The series published in August 2011.
Former editor of The O-N-E, LaDonna Beeker, received a second-place award in the news feature category for her October 2010 package "Lutherans divide." The story focused on a split in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the creation of a new synod, the North American Lutheran Church.
The O-N-E's editorial staff also received a second-place award for best niche publication for its first "Healthy Living" magazine published in August 2011.
The staff received a third-place award in the NCPA's "best community coverage" category, for a pair of newspapers published Nov. 4-5, 2010.
"When The O-N-E staff goes to work every day we aren't thinking about winning awards. Our efforts to report the news are dedicated to keeping the county's citizens informed about topics important to their lives," said O-N-E Publisher Michael Willard. "While that's the case, it is still nice to receive recognition from our peers in the newspaper industry, particularly those throughout North Carolina."
The O-N-E competes in a contest category that includes newspapers with a paid circulation up to 12,500.
"We are competing with newspapers that are much larger than our own," Willard continued, adding the Catawba County community newspaper competes against such newspapers as Statesville Record and Landmark, Morganton News Herald, The Sanford Herald and The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City. "Our fellow competitors have larger staffs and more resources at their disposal, but this year's awards are a testament to the fact that the products we create and the talented staff we employ are still among the state's best."
While awards for feature writing spotlight the work of Dunn and Beeker, Willard said the newspaper's success in this year's editorial contest is the product of a lot of hard work by previous and existing staff members in all departments of The Observer News Enterprise.
"These awards aren't for any one person â€” they are for our entire team at The O-N-E," he said. "News stories don't win awards without an initial idea and sharp editing, and here, those processes are very much a team effort â€” just like everything we do here. In order for us to be successful, it takes a strong performance in every department, from advertising sales and graphic design, to circulation and the business.
"These awards are a tribute to our entire staff," Willard said, "and we are proud to keep on providing great community news to our dedicated readers, even if we never win another award."