Home Local News Richmond Observer honored with 13 awards in N.C. Press Association contest

Richmond Observer honored with 13 awards in N.C. Press Association contest

The leaders of the Richmond Observer pose with awards following the N.C. Press Association's annual convention in Raleigh. From left: Charlie Melvin, co-publisher; William R. Toler, managing editor; Kyle Pillar, sports editor; Kenny Melvin, co-founder, co-publisher. Photo by Jordyn Pillar

RALEIGH — The Richmond Observer’s dynamic duo brought home a baker’s dozen accolades from the N.C. Press Association’s 2022 Editorial and Photojournalism Contest.

Managing Editor William R. Toler and Sports Editor Kyle Pillar received a combined 13 certificates at the NCPA’s annual awards banquet held Thursday evening at the Hilton Raleigh North Hills.

Their awards included three first-place, four second-place and six third-place wins in eight categories.

Toler and Pillar swept the Sports News Reporting category, with Toler taking first and third place — his first-ever awards for sports coverage — and Pillar winning second place.

The winning entries were:

Toler and Pillar also placed second and third, respectively, in headline writing.

Pillar’s other awards included a first-place win for Sports Coverage, as well as second and third in both Sports Enterprise Reporting and Sports Feature Writing.

In the Sports Coverage win, judges commented: “Great prep sports coverage. Kyle Pillar is the sportswriter you want covering your school’s games.”

Toler earned first place in City/County Government Reporting for a series of stories on the controversy surrounding the rezoning and air quality permit for a proposed biochar plant outside of Hamlet.

Other awards included third place in Best Video and Breaking News Coverage. The latter was for a story about a man who was fired within hours after he was caught using a racial slur on a home doorbell camera while trying to schedule family portraits.

“I am extremely proud of our team here at the RO,” said Co-publisher Charlie Melvin. “We really do have the dream team.”

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The RO competed against 15 other internet-only publications in the NCPA’s online division, a mixture of community and special interest news organizations, and tied with Carolina Public Press for the second-most awards in the division. NC Health News had the most with 16.

All entries had to be from October of 2020 through February of 2022, and were judged by members of the Iowa Newspaper Association. There were more than 4,000 entries submitted to the contest by more than 125 publications and news organizations.

The ceremony was hosted, once again, by UNC-TV’s Shannon Vickery and awards were handed out by NCPA Past President Sandra Hurley, regional publisher for a group of newspapers in the Mount Airy area.

State Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, was honored with the William C. Lassiter First Amendment Award, which is presented to a non-journalist who “has worked to keep government open and accessible to citizens and the press, and who actively defends the principles of the First Amendment and the public’s right to know.”

The RO, founded in 2017 by Kenny Melvin and Lance Jenkins, has won 32 awards since joining the NCPA in 2019.

“Nights like this make all the late nights, road trips and time away from home worth it,” Pillar, who is also a teacher at the Ninth Grade Academy, said in a Facebook post late Thursday night, thanking his wife and publishers Kenny and Charlie Melvin. “Most of all, thank you Richmond County for allowing me to be your sports editor. It’s truly a privilege to cover our student-athletes, families and community.”

Pillar has won 16 awards in the past three years and Toler’s work has been recognized with 31 accolades by both the NCPA and Associated Press since moving to Richmond County in 2014.

Click here to read about the 2021 awards.
Click here to read about the 2020 awards.

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