The Opelika Observer wins a General Excellence Award in 2019 APA’s Media Awards Contest


By Observer Staff

The Observer was awarded second place in the ‘General Execellence’ category for their division in this years Alabama Press Association’s Media Awards Contest.
They also received first place in the ‘Most Improved’ category as well as first place for ‘Best Use of Photography/Editorial Content.’
The Most Improved category as well as the Best Use of Photography/Editorial Content are both comprehensive awards where multiple entire editions are reviewed and judged accordingly.
One of the judges of the Best Use of Photography/Editorial Content category left this comment, “sports photos helped elevate this (the Observer) above the competitors. In general, the Observer used more photos to illustrate its pages, especially the photo packages.”
Other awards earned by the Observer in this year’s contest include:
Second Place Awards

  • Best Website
  • Best Business Story
    Third Place Awards
  • Best Sports Coverage
  • Best Spot News Story
  • Best Humorous Column
  • Best Feature Photo
  • Best News Photo
  • Best Use of Graphics or Illustrations
    Michelle Key, Observer owner since late December 2017, spoke of how thrilled she was for the Observer to win these awards.
    “I took on the responsibility of the Observer because I truly believed that we had job to do in serving our community. I was inexperienced and had a lot to learn in an extremely short amount of time. The learning never really ends. Over the last 18 months there have been many sleepless night contemplating ideas on how to improve and grow the paper in order to continue to serve our community to the best of our ability. Some ideas were good, some were not,” Key said.
    “But I think what worked the best was that every idea was met with a willingness to try by the staff of the Observer and when some ideas didn’t work, we were still able to take away lessons that helped the next idea work better. The willingness of everyone to just pitch in and help wherever needed has made us a tight-knit team and these 11 awards are the result of that team effort and I am just thrilled to share these honors with all that work with us.”
    Key spoke highly of the foundation that was built by the previous owners, men and women that started the Observer in 2008 to fill a void that they saw in the Opelika community.
    “Without the strong, solid foundation that they laid and built upon, the Observer would not be here today. I recognize that these awards all started with that foundation. So to each of them, I say ‘thank you’,” Key said.
    The Observer also recieved a ‘Most Improved’ award in 2015 and Key stated that she is honored to be maintaining the high standards that were set years ago.
    As editor and main writer for the Observer, Morgan Bryce shared that earning these awards is evidence that the paper and its staff are sharing news that is pertinent to readers in Opelika, Lee County and beyond.
    “I’m not in this to have a spotlight shined on me. My drive and passion for my job come from my love of this area and the people in it,” Bryce said. “With any assigned piece I have, I always try to place the reader first and foremost in my mind and ask myself, ‘what would I want to know about this if I was learning about it for the first time?’ Plus, we have an outstanding team here that is striving daily to improve, an energy that helps keep me going.”
    Bryce added that he believes the paper has a bright future ahead as the paper’s coverage areas continue their exponential growth.
    “Here in our home base, there’s new businesses coming and opening frequently. In Beauregard, there’s talk of incorporation and becoming a city in the near future,” Bryce said. “The same applies for Smiths Station, which has been experiencing massive housing growth the last three years and is about to boom in the commercial realm. I foresee us having an unending cycle of positive community growth and news to share with our readers for years to come.”
    For more information about the newspaper contest or to see a full list of other winners, visit
    Publisher’s Note:
    We would like to congratulate our fellow regional newspapers for their success in the General Excellence category as follows:
    • Division B – Opelika-Auburn News – 2nd Place
    • Division C – Citizen of East Alabama – 3rd Place
    • Division E – The Auburn Plainsman – 3rd Place.
    These awards show the local media’s effort to provide quality news and information to our community as a whole.
    We are honored to be a part of this award-winning group.


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