Year in review: Local media highlights

WINNERS CIRCLE: Mountain Xpress took third place in the general excellence category for North Carolina community newspapers with circulation of more than 10,000. The award of excellence was one of nine editorial awards Xpress received at this year's N.C. Press Association awards, held on Feb. 22 in Raleigh. Photo by Virginia Daffron
  1. In February, several local publications racked up numerous awards from the North Carolina Press Association, including the Asheville Citizen Times (with 9 awards), Carolina Public Press (with 7), Cherokee One Feather (with 12), Cherokee Scout (with 12), Hendersonville Lightning (with 8), Mountain Xpress (with 9), Smoky Mountain News (with 15), and the Sylva Herald and Ruralite (with 13).
  2. Xpress Arts & Entertainment Editor Alli Marshall was named UNC Asheville’s 2018 Ramsey Library Community Author award winner, garnering her a yearlong residency.
  3. Also in February, the web company 6AM City launched AVLtoday, part of its network of local news and entertainment sites and free daily newsletters.
  4. Meanwhile, volunteer-run community radio station Asheville FM expanded into a substantially larger studio space at its Haywood Road headquarters.
  5. Local open-data project SunshineRequest.com celebrated its first anniversary in March. In its first year, the project facilitated some 70 requests for local government information and shared the responses with the public.
  6. In the spring, Asheville-based Blue Ridge Public Radio completed its expansion and rebranding campaign by changing the name of WCQS, WNC’s longtime NPR affiliate, to BPR Classic. A sister station, BPR News, focuses more on public affairs programming.
  7. In June, the historic Asheville Citizen Times building on O. Henry Avenue acquired new owners after being purchased by local investors. The newspaper plans to rent space and continue its operations in the building for at least the next three years.
  8. Through much of the year, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, owner of local ABC affiliate WLOS, courted controversy over its directives to member stations that they include pre-scripted pro-Trump commentaries in their news shows.
  9. It was a big year for Carolina Public Press, the Asheville-based nonprofit investigative news service that launched in 2011 to cover Western North Carolina. In 2018, CPP dramatically expanded its team and operations and began adding statewide coverage.
  10. 2018 featured no shortage of local social media kerfuffles: In January, the owner of a Fletcher gym was roundly criticized for posting numerous images of his clients’ derrieres; in February, the Asheville Police Department apologized for a Valentine’s Day Twitter post that showed a picture of a woman with the words, “Restraining order? You can’t restrain love!”; and in October, a doctored photo of the sign outside Ashevillle’s Little Pigs Bar-B-Q went viral — it advertised a nonexistent “Trump Special: Lyin’ fat pig, BBQ ribs with orange sauce.”
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About Jon Elliston
Former Mountain Xpress managing editor Jon Elliston is the senior editor at WNC magazine.

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