The Chowan Herald and its sister paper, The Perquimans Weekly, won several awards in this year’s North Carolina Press Association contest. The winners were announced during a virtual banquet Friday, Feb. 26.

The group’s annual convention was held Thursday and Friday, Feb. 25-26. The contest winners were announced during a virtual ceremony on Friday, Feb. 26.

Chowan Herald staff won first place in Use of Social Media, third place for Appearance and Design and third place for Photo Essay.

Editor Nicole Bowman-Layton won first place in General News Reporting for the articles “Hundreds march of equality” and “Public urged to rededicate itself to justice,” in the June 25, 2020, edition. She also won first place for Sports News Reporting for her coverage of the John A. Holmes vs. Washington County football game (Oct. 23, 2019), and the “Aces secure AAC championship” (Nov. 13, 2019).

In their comments, the contest’s judges said she provided “very nice layouts, with art, great coverage of local events with in-depth details.” Of her sports news reporting, they said: “Great coverage, well-written with close attention to stats and details. Nice quotes and great picture placement.”

Perquimans Weekly Editor Miles Layton, who also works as a staff writer for the Chowan Herald, claimed two second-place awards for the Herald. One was for his Arts and Entertainment Reporting for “Holland releases new single, video” (April 16, 2020). His Investigative Reporting award was for “Digging into the high school construction project” (June 11, 2020). Of his arts and entertainment writing, the judges called it “the freshest approach of any of the entries.”

For The Perquimans Weekly, Miles Layton also won the Henry Lee Weathers Freedom of Information award in the contest’s community division, a special award sponsored by The Associated Press and presented to journalists or newspapers for exceptional work advancing or upholding the cause of freedom of information.

The contest’s judges presented Layton the Weathers award for his news coverage and editorials about taxpayer-funded trips by Hertford Town Council members and his calls for reforming the town‘s travel policy.

In a video, awards emcee Shannon Vickery of PBS NC noted that Layton’s ”public record requests led to the uncovering of cost associated with travel and led to a halt of any new council travel, as well as a review of the town’s finances and a revision of the (town’s) travel policy.”

Vickery said the contest’s judges considered Layton’s coverage of town government in Hertford “a great example of using the press to protect readers‘ and taxpayers‘ interest and holding public officials‘ feet to the fire.”

“It was nice to see that some oversights unearthed by the paper resulted in positive and forward-thinking change for the town,” Vickery said, quoting the judges.

He also won first place for multimedia project and third place for religion and faith reporting. On Layton’s religion and faith entry, the judges commented: “Very informative, nice flow and formatting, excellent writing, well done!”

“This contest spans across the entire state of North Carolina, and we are honored to have been recognized as a news leader in our community,” said General Manager Sean O’Brien. “This validates the dedicated hard work from our staff and the appreciated loyalty from our readers.”

Contact Nicole Bowman-Layton at nlayton@ncweeklies.com.