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NCBA Presents Press Awards

NCBA Presents Press Awards

Michael Hewlett accepts award from Caryn McNeill.

The North Carolina Bar Association’s annual Media and the Law Awards were presented on Thursday, Feb. 22, at the North Carolina Press Association Winter Institute in Raleigh. NCBA President Caryn McNeill presented the awards.

The Media and the Law Award was established by the NCBA in 1989. Judging is conducted by the Communications Committee based on accurate, informative coverage of law-related issues which fosters greater public understanding of the legal system and the role of lawyers in society.

This year Media and the Law Awards were presented in two categories: best nondaily newspaper article and best daily newspaper article.

The recipient in the category of Best Daily Newspaper Article was Michael Hewlett of the Winston-Salem Journal. His award-winning article, “Making Their Case,” addresses our nation’s growing drug problem.

The writer focused the article on the efforts of attorney Kerri Sigler of the Forsyth County Public Defender’s Office to start an adult drug treatment court in that county. He spoke with judges, law enforcement officers and other court officials who support the effort while also providing dissenting viewpoints.

This balanced approach impressed the Communications Committee members, one of whom commented:

The passion of Ms. Sigler comes through the words on the page; and then you get to the cons of her proposal. Also, here is an opportunity for the community to assist through donations. For many people giving money is easier than giving time. I think the article also gives some education on the heroin problem and the particular challenges of this particular drug addiction.

Renee Spencer, right, accepts award from Caryn McNeill.

The recipient in the category of Best Nondaily Article was Renee Spencer of The State Port Pilot for coverage of the growing opioid epidemic. Beneath the headline “Opioid Addiction a ‘cul-de-sac’ Issue,” she focused on the opioid addiction that ultimately claimed the life of Don Flattery’s son, Kevin, and the father’s ongoing efforts to battle this crisis.

The events that claimed his son’s life transpired before Don Flattery and his wife, Priscilla, relocated to Brunswick County. But the father, upon hearing of Judge Ola Lewis’s Opioid Task Force initiative, immediately joined the effort in hopes that other families might avoid the tragedy that his family has endured.

One Communications Committee member commended the author for humanizing the opioid epidemic that is so prevalent in today’s news:

I think the article did a good job of bringing it to the level of “this could be your neighbor, friend, family member, etc.” At the same time it was “scary” in the sense of this could happen to anyone around you; it explained what one community was doing constructively to try and combat what is becoming a huge country-wide problem. It was both sobering and encouraging.

This was Spencer’s second Media and the Law Award in three years.

Media and the Law Award Winners Through the Years
2017

Daily Newspaper Article: Michael Gordon, Charlotte Observer
Best Series: Holly Kays, Smoky Mountain News of Waynesville

2016
Daily Newspaper Article: William R. Toler, Richmond County Daily Journal
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Renee Sloan, State Port Pilot
Best Series: Joseph Neff, The News & Observer

2015
Daily Newspaper Article: Emily Weaver, Times-News of Hendersonville
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Holly Kays, Smoky Mountain News of Waynesville
Best Series: Joseph Neff, The News & Observer

2014
Daily Newspaper Article: Emily Weaver, Times-News of Hendersonville
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Holly Kays, Smoky Mountain News of Waynesville
Best Series: Joseph Neff, The News & Observer

2013
Daily Newspaper Article: Jon Jimison, The Wilson Times
Best Series: Charlotte Observer (Steve Harrison, April Bethea, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Steve Lyttle, Ely Portillo and Gary L. Wright)

2012
Daily Newspaper Article: Olivia Neeley and Jon Jimison, The Wilson Times
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Janice Crisp, The Alamance News
Best Series: The News & Observer (Andrew Curliss and Joseph Neff)

2011
Daily Newspaper Article: Pam Kelly and Gary L. Wright, The Charlotte Observer
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Becky Johnson, Smoky Mountain News of Waynesville
Best Series: The News & Observer (Mandy Locke and Anne Blythe)

2010
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Tomas Murawski, The Alamance News
Daily Newspaper Article: Sarah Avery, The News & Observer
Best Series: The News & Observer (Sarah Ovaska and Mandy Locke)

2009
Daily Newspaper Article: Billy Ball, The Enquirer-Journal of Monroe
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Kenneth Long Jr., The Alamance News
Best Series: Spring Hope Enterprise (Ken Ripley)

2008
Daily Newspaper Article: Sarah Ovaska, The News & Observer
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Tomas Murawski, The Alamance News
Best Series: The News & Observer (Joseph Neff)

2007
Daily Newspaper Article: Andrea Weigl, The News & Observer
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Lynn Hotaling, Sylva Herald
Best Series: Charlotte Observer (Ames Alexander and Gary Wright)

2006
Daily Newspaper Article: Matthew Eisley, News & Observer
Best Series: Charlotte Observer (Ames Alexander)

2005
Daily Newspaper Article: Matthew Eisley, News & Observer
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Fiona Morgan, Independent Weekly of Durham
Best Series: Charlotte Observer (Ames Alexander, Ted Mellnik and Gary L. Wright)

2004
Daily Newspaper Article: Matthew Eisley, News & Observer
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Hunter Bretzius, Havelock News
Best Series: Salisbury Post (Jonathan Weaver)

2002
Daily Newspaper Article: Frank DeLoache, Salisbury Post
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Mike Dayton, Lawyers Weekly
Best Series: Greensboro News & Record (Parker Lee Nash)

2001
Daily Newspaper Article: Paul Garber, Greensboro News & Record
Nondaily Newspaper Article: R.J. Beatty, The News of Orange County
Best Series: Charlotte Observer (Ames Alexander, Liz Chandler, Eric Frazier and Diane Suchetka)

2000
Daily Newspaper Article: Christopher Quinn, Winston-Salem Journal
Nondaily Newspaper Article: Traci Davis, Smithfield Herald
Best Series: Charlotte Observer (Ames Alexander and Gary L. Wright)

NOTES:
Recipients are listed by year presented; the actual award is dated and based upon the previous year’s contribution. Research regarding previous recipients dating back to 1989 is ongoing.