2021 APA Media Awards announced

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    By Opelika
    Observer Staff

    The Alabama Press Association announced the first round of awards in the 2021 APA Media Awards competition last Friday in which the Opelika Observer and LIVE Lee Magazine won multiple awards.

    In the editorial and advertising competitions, the Observer earned 28 awards and placed as follows:

    First Place Awards
    – Best Humorous Column – “Under the Surface” by Wendy Hodge
    – Best Sports Feature Store – “Opelika Dawg Pound playing through the pandemic” by Associate Sports Editor, Wil Crews
    – Best Feature Photo – “Survivor” by Observer Photojournalist, Robert Noles
    – Best News Photo – “Remembrance Monument” by Observer Photojournalist, Robert Noles
    – Best Photo Essay – “Military Dad Returns Home” using contributed photos, designed by Observer staff
    – Best Niche Publication – “Lee County Strong”
    – Best Use of Social Media – The Observer’s Facebook Page
    Advertising Awards
    – Best Advertising Campaign – “Player of the Week Campaign” created by Observer staff
    – Best Original or Creative Idea – “Oliver Henry”
    – Best Niche Publication –  “Lee County Strong”

    Second Place Awards
    – Best Layout and Design
    – Best Business Story or Column –  “John Emerald Distillery switches focus to hand sanitizer”  written by former Editor, Morgan Bryce
    – Best Sports News – In-depth Coverage – “OHS football team adjusts to new reality” by Associate Sports Editor, Wil Crews
    – Best Local Sports Column – “Where do we go from here?” by Associate Sports Editor, Wil Crews
    – Best Sports Photo – “Dawg Pound” by Observer Photojournalist, Robert Noles
    – Best Photo Essay – “Community remembers William Beuchner”  photos by Robert Noles and designed by Observer staff
    – Best Production and Printing

    Third Place Awards
    – Best Lifestyle and Family Page
    – Best Business Story or Column “Cafe 123 serving lunch by popular demand” by former Associate Editor, Will Fairless
    – Best Humorous Column – “Pandemic Lessons” by Wendy Hodge
    – Best Sports News – In-depth Coverage – “Southern Christian gives homeschoolers a chance to play” by Associate Sports Editor, Wil Crews
    – Best Sports Single Event Story – “Hornets fall in season finale” by sports writer, Rick Lanier
    – Best Feature Photo – “A Community Prays” by Observer Photojournalist, Robert Noles
    – Best News Photo – “Grief” by Observer Photojournalist, Robert Noles
    – Best Spot News Photo – “Protesters find common ground” by Associate Sports Editor, Wil Crews
    – Best Photo Essay – “Carnival at USA Town Center extended” photos by Robert Noles and designed by Publisher Michelle Key
    – Best Use of Graphics and Illustrations – “Lee County Strong Cover” photo by Photojournalist  Robert Noles, designed by Opelika Observer staff
    – Online Breaking News Coverage – “Ethics violation” by former Editor, Morgan Bryce

    In the magazine competition, LIVE Lee’s, the new lifestyle magazine that was launched last year won six awards as follows:

    Second Place Awards
    – Best Culinary Feature – “Twice Baked” by Wil Crews and LIVE Lee Associate Editor, Hannah Lester
    Third Place Awards
    – Best Single Feature Story – “2nd Chance” by Wil Crews and LIVE Lee Associate Editor, Hannah Lester
    – Best Personality Profile – “Dr. Joanne Smith T” by columnist, Ann Clipperly
    – Best Business Profile – “Twice Baked” by Wil Crews and LIVE Lee Associate Editor, Hannah Lester
    – Best Single Photo – “Class of 2020” by Observer Photojournalist Robert Noles
    – Best Column – “To the Graduating Class of 2020” by Publisher, Michelle Key

    “Last year was a really difficult year for us for many reasons, but I have an amazing group of people that pour their hearts into their work, and it is an honor to see their efforts recognized in such a huge way,” Observer Owner and Publisher Michelle Key said. “They deserve all the credit for these awards.”

    Key is especially excited that Associate Sports Editor Wil Crews won several awards.  Crews joined the Observer as an intern just over a year ago and stayed as part of the team. “These awards show that Wil is a talented writer that can excel both in sports writing and writing feature stories. I’m extremely proud of the work that he is doing,” Key said.  “I’m also pleased that our photographer Robert Noles,  continues to shine by producing award-winning photographs for us. His talent really brings a lot to the table and I’m grateful to work with him.” Noles has been working with the Observer for more than 12 years.

    Key went on to say that she had no idea what to expect in the magazine competition with this being the first year for LIVE Lee to be entered. “To bring a brand-new product to the market, and have it recognized with six awards in its first year is mind-blowing to me. Hannah has done an incredible job with LIVE Lee in her first 11 months here and it shows,” Key said. “We have received a lot of community support this past year and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for LIVE Lee.”

    Not all categories of the competition have been announced, and the final awards ceremony will be held in late June in Orange Beach, Alabama. Be sure to check out the Observer’s website for links to the award-winning articles and photos.

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