Dispatch staff earns state awards

Mar. 21, 2013 @ 11:47 PM

CHAPEL HILL — The Dispatch staff was recognized with a dozen awards Thursday night at an annual banquet with industry peers.

The N.C. Press Association held its Winter Institute annual meeting and awards presentation Wednesday and Thursday, culminating with a banquet in the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

The Dispatch staff of Martin Fisher, David Irvine, Dylan Wilson, Kellen Holtzman, Mark Dolejs, Allie Rae Mauser and Alan Wooten, along with correspondents Jennie Robinson, Don Dulin, Earl King, Wes Hight and Walt Bowen, earned two staff awards and 10 individually. Included were five first place, three second place and four third place honors.

“While the greatest award we get each day is a satisfied subscriber, it’s truly exhilarating for a group of peers in our business to recognize us for our efforts in covering the news important to our Tri-County coverage area,” said James Edwards, publisher of The Dispatch. “I see the dedication of our staff to deliver stories and photographs with integrity, thoroughness and creativity, and I’m so proud of this team. Being recognized with this many awards from the press association is the creamy icing on a simply scrumptious cake.”

The staff awards included first place for News Section Design and third place in General Excellence for websites.

Dolejs, the photo editor, earned first place in the categories of Photo Page and Feature Photography, second place for Sports Photography and Best Video, and third place for a second entry to Photo Page.

Holtzman, the sports editor, earned first place in Sports Feature Writing, second place with staff for Sports Coverage, and third place for Sports News Reporting.

Wooten, the editor, earned first place for Editorials.

Irvine, a part-time staff writer, earned third place for Business Writing.

Since Edwards returned to The Dispatch as publisher in the summer of 2004, The Dispatch has won 47 awards in the annual News, Editorial and Photojournalism Contest. The competition this year included more than 5,000 entries spread across 38 categories, plus six special awards. The contest period was from Oct. 1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2012.

Competition is in divisions according to circulation. The Dispatch competes in the daily newspapers category for under 12,500 circulation.

The 12 awards in a single year is the most under the direction of Edwards. The staff previously won five in 2004, three in 2005, one in 2006, three in 2007, three in 2008, two in 2009, 10 in 2010, and eight for 2011.

Among the first place awards, Dolejs’ photo page was entitled “She’s stealing the heart of Dixie” and his feature photo was from the summer entitled “Beating the heat.”

Holtzman’s first place award for sports feature writing took a look at Vance County 40 years to the day after President Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law. Contestants in the editorials category enter three editorials as one entry, and among those from Wooten was one related to Gov. Bev Perdue’s comments following the marriage amendment vote last spring.