Home Local News Richmond Observer wins 11 press awards

Richmond Observer wins 11 press awards

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond Observer staff was honored Friday with nearly a dozen awards by the North Carolina Press Association during the 2021 Editorial and Photojournalism Contest.

The awards ceremony, hosted by Shannon Vickery, was held virtually this year due to government mandates on public gatherings.

The RO competed against other internet-only publications in the NCPA’s online division, which is a mixture of community and special interest news organizations.

All entries had to be from Oct. 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020, and were judged by members of the West Virginia Press Association.

Russell Parker, videographer and executive producer of Live at 5, won his first award, placing third in Best Video for capturing the moment Raiders superfan Michael Clinton was surprised with a pair of eSight glasses in December 2019.

“It’s exciting getting my first award,” Parker said Friday afternoon. “I never expected to be in a position where I could have an opportunity to win an award like this. The Richmond Observer provided me with the tools to go after it. I’m very thankful for the past three and a half years working with this amazing team and I’m proud of this video division I’ve been fortunate to head since its beginning as we near 1,000 episodes of LIVE at 5 and 200 episodes of The RO Sports Show.

“I love this job and this county,” Parker continued. “The story such as the one that got this award is proof Richmond County is full of caring and compassionate people and that’s what I love most about it.”

RO Sports editor Kyle Pillar won six awards this year, including first place for Sports Coverage.

Pillar also placed first and second in Sports Feature Writing for a story on the new digital down marker and a piece remembering the late Dr. Bill Haltiwanger, respectively; second place in Sports News Reporting on the Raiders’ 500th win; and third place in Sports Columns.

Aside from sports, Pillar placed third in Arts and Entertainment Reporting for a feature on Ellerbe native Drew Henderson’s journey as a Nashville recording artist.


Managing Editor William R. Toler placed first in Headline Writing and Photo Essay, the latter for a series of photographs chronicling the Hamlet Fire Department’s propane training.

Toler also placed second in General News Reporting, for stories related to the tazing and arrest of a man at a football game, and in City, County Government Reporting for coverage of the sales tax distribution debacle.

The physical awards have not yet been delivered.

“I’m really proud of our team,” said RO co-founder and co-publisher Kenny Melvin. “This being our second year as members of the North Carolina Press Association, increasing our number of awards just demonstrates the talent of our staff and their dedication to Richmond County.”

Last year, the RO won eight awards.

Toler has been honored with a total of 25 awards from the NCPA and the N.C. Associated Press since he began reporting in Richmond County in 2014. Pillar has won nine in the past two years.

The RO was founded in July 2017 by Kenny Melvin and Lance Jenkins and joined the NCPA in 2019.

“We’ve come a long way,” said co-publisher Charlie Melvin. “It’s a big achievement.”

 (Note: Parker’s quote was added after the story’s publication.)

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