Raleigh’s a fair distance from our mountain home, but the drive to the North Carolina Press Association’s annual conference was worth the gas money for Xpress this year. The paper snagged 12 awards, including third place for general excellence among community newspapers with a circulation of over 10,000 in North Carolina.
The judges wrote: “At first glance, Asheville’s Mountain Xpress has the look of a flashy niche publication. But once you get into it, the punchy tab-style layout lends way to thoughtful, issue-based news reporting and enjoyable feature stories. The extensive voter guide was particularly well done, as is the community calendar. Obviously, this is not your traditional community newspaper (no sports coverage or local editorial), but it is certainly fun to read.”
Xpress managing editor Virginia Daffron attended the awards ceremony on Feb. 22, where she received first place in the education reporting category for her look at the wide gap in academic achievement between white and black students in the Asheville City Schools, Changing course: Asheville City Schools take aim at racial disparities. Daffron and staff writer Max Hunt shared second place in the beat feature reporting category for their writing on the French Broad River:
- Communities along Upper French Broad work to restore water quality
- Local agencies work to improve water quality in Buncombe & Madison counties
- Can the Woodfin Greenway & Blueway beat the odds?
- MSD upgrades infrastructure with capital improvement projects
Arts & Entertainment editor and writer Alli Marshall scored three prizes:
- Second place for her reporting on (In) sightseeing: Hood Tours share the history and future of black Asheville
- Third place for Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands celebrates 70 years
- Third place for headline writing
Former county government reporter Dan Hesse received second place for The 1.5 percent: Past pay increases present puzzles for city county government reporting.
Staff writer Able Allen (who also manages Xpress‘ administrative operations) netted third place in news enterprise reporting for his look at how county fire services are structured and funded, Where there’s smoke: How local fire departments keep residents safe in changing times.
Xpress‘ pullout guide to Beer Week received third place in the special section category.
And Xpress‘ design staff — Norn Cutson, Scott Southwick and Olivia Urban — were honored with three awards for ads on behalf of Rezaz Mediterranean Restaurant & Wine Bar (first place), Isa’s Bistro (third place) and Hot Yoga Asheville (third place).