The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette’s coverage of Hurricane Matthew, an in-depth look at Hilton Head Island’s workforce crisis, and a serial on the adventures of a lost dog and extreme efforts to capture him garnered top honors in awards given out by the South Carolina Press Association over the weekend.
The Island Packet’s hurricane coverage won the “Best of the Best” award for outstanding breaking news, and the paper’s online storm center — where reader questions were answered in real time — was recognized as the most innovative concept of 2016.
Also recognized was the Packet’s storytelling during the storm, including an in-depth narrative on the people who stayed through the hurricane and a series of stories post-storm on the local heroes who stepped up to help others. Publisher Sara Johnson Borton’s essay, “Islanders, now is the time to carry each other,” won best short story.
In all, the Packet received 35 awards, including 11 first places.
Also among the highlights was recognition for Propping Up Paradise, the paper’s in-depth and exclusive look at the area’s lack of affordable housing and what it means for the future of workforce sustainability. The project was recognized in three categories, including the prestigious public service category. Reporter Erin Heffernan’s story, “This is not the America I was promised,” won second place for community service storytelling, and the series was also honored in the best digital project category.
Other first-place winners were:
▪ Staff, digital feature project, for Finn.
▪ Staff, best overall use of social media.
▪ Wade Livingston, best sports feature story.
▪ Mandy Matney, best individual use of social media.
▪ Lindsay Trapp, best individual front-page design.
Judging for the SCPA news content is arranged so that The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette compete against all South Carolina papers in some categories, but within their circulation divisions in others. Papers in the latter category include The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News, the Rock Hill Herald and The (Spartanburg) Herald-Journal, among others.