The Ocracoke Observer won North Carolina Press Association awards for writing and photography in 2018.

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RALEIGH–The Ocracoke Observer received eight awards, including four first places Thursday night during the North Carolina Press Association’s annual conference.

The Observer won awards in the Online newspaper category and was one of eight online newspapers winning awards.

Co-publishers Connie Leinbach, also editor, and Peter Vankevich, together received three first-place awards for headlines: “Chicken run thwarted,” “Not all who wander are lost” and “The raw and the steamed highlight 2017 Oyster Roast.”

Vankevich’s photo of rehabilitated sea turtles released back into the ocean in April 2018 won first place for spot photography, and his photo of a trumpeter swan on the island for three winter months in 2018 won second place for spot photography.

Peter Vankevich and Connie Leinbach

Leinbach won second place for best lede in the story “Chicken run thwarted on Swan Quarter Ferry” and third place for arts and entertainment reporting for her story “Messages of hope transform Magic Bean yard.”

The Observer also won third place in photography for “Photos of a wintry Ocracoke.”The winning stories were published on between October 2017 and September 2018. 

Founded in 1873, the North Carolina Press Association is one of the oldest and largest journalism trade organizations in the nation. It is a member-owned and operated non-profit association established to protect First Amendment freedoms, promote the business interests of North Carolina newspapers and maintain high standards in the industry.

The association awarded the William C. Lassiter Award to Rep. Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba County) for championing a free and independent press.

The award is given each year to a non-journalist in honor of the late William C. Lassiter, a former NCPA general counsel and recognizes members of the public who have made significant contributions in support of open government.

“Mitchell stands up for freedom of the press continually,” said emcee Shannon Vickery, director of production partnerships and business development for UNC-TV, in her introduction of Setzer.

Members of the New Jersey Press Association judge the more than 4,000 North Carolina entries in the yearly contest that encompasses the smallest to the largest newspapers across the state.





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  1. Congratulations on these awards every one of which is well deserved. The Association obviously is a good judge of quality journalism and photography!

  2. Congratulations! I check in online almost daily, and I am never disappointed. Keep up the good work. (I’m especially glad “our” trumpeter swan got some recognition!)

  3. You two rock!! Congratulations! Well deserved awards! Those of us off-island are very lucky to have two terrific journalists keeping us informed about that wonderful place called Ocracoke! Thank you for all your diligent work! So happy for you both!

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