Up Front: July 2006

To win again

Consistency is one of the keys to quality, and if this year’s Alliance of Area Business Publications Editorial Excellence Awards are any indication, we have that in plenty around here. Business North Carolina won five, same as last year. In fact, four were in the same categories — three of them the very same prizes.

Ed Martin’s cover story on the Canton floods (July 2005) took the gold prize for best magazine feature, the fourth year in a row he’s won it — and the sixth time in seven years that a BNC writer has. Here’s what the judges, members of the University of Missouri journalism faculty, had to say:

“Part of what makes this story compelling is its subject matter. Citizens in a small town survive for a century because of its paper mill and the river that drives it, even though both can also bring tragedy in the form of pollution or floods. But it’s the strong, narrative quality of the writing that makes this article an award winner.”

They continued in that vein in awarding Ed the silver prize for best body of magazine work by a single writer. (He got the bronze last year, after winning the gold three years running.) “The leads are inviting and take the reader sensually to the stories through description and by establishing momentum. The stories contain interesting facts and concepts that are clearly presented and invite reader involvement by offering points of identification.”

We took top prize for best magazine or newspaper headlines for the third year in a row. “These headlines are golden because they are clever, clear and a good match for the stories they serve. Each main head links to a carefully written deck that carries through its style and tone. Together they accurately sum up the story and draw the reader into the article. These are smart headlines written for a smart audience.”

“Picture This,” the photo feature that appears most months, struck silver for best recurring magazine or newspaper feature. “From body parts to growing tobacco to crafting violins, this feature is a terrific example of storytelling, headlines, and photos working together to present a complete package that is well written and beautifully illustrated.” Last year, we won a silver prize for best profile.

Though it’s named for a base rather than precious metal, the bronze prize we won for best magazine in many ways means the most to us. “Business people in North Carolina surely consider Business North Carolina a must-read,” the judges wrote. “This magazine had some of the most interesting and well-written stories of all the business magazines. It has newsy departments and nice photo spreads. It is well aware of American Society of Magazine Editors guidelines with careful labeling [of advertising and sponsored sections] that gives this magazine credibility.”

The competition drew 680 entries from 61 of the AABP’s 74 member publications, and this was the fourth consecutive year we’ve been named the nation’s third-best regional business magazine. As honored as we are to keep winning the award, we’re a competitive bunch at BNC. I don’t think anybody would disagree when I say we wouldn’t mind trading some of that consistency for a little alchemy.