Observer staff wins 17 press awards
Coastal Observer staff received 17 awards for excellence in reporting, photography and design from the S.C. Press Association, including eight first-place awards.
The awards were presented last week in Columbia, where Charles Swenson, Coastal Observer editor, was honored for his service as his term as press association president came to an end.
Swenson won first place in the obituary category of the all-weekly division for a look back on the life of Doc Lachicotte, who died in April.
The judges said “very well written. Made me wish I’d known him.”
A story about the Friends of the Waccamaw Library’s annual summer book sale garnered Swenson a first-place award in the short story category for small and mid-sized weeklies.
The judges said “even for a short piece, the reporter got several viewpoints instead of just one or two, and a fun lead made for a fun read. Liked the use of photos to make an attractive package.”
A photo from a Waccamaw High School boys soccer game that featured players from both teams airborne was named the best sports action photo in the mid-sized weekly division.
The judges said “what a beautifully framed shot. The emotion on all the players’ faces, the contrast. Fantastic job.”
Swenson won first place among the small and mid-sized weeklies for a humorous photo of a forlorn spaniel on a float during the Pawleys Island Fourth of July Parade. A girl standing next to the spaniel was holding a sign that read “free puppy.”
The judges said “I’m a sucker for dog photos but the puppy’s expression paired with the childrens’ signs makes this entry stand out.”
Swenson also took third place in the category for a picture of a little girl handing a unicorn to her dad, a firefighter marching in the Georgetown Christmas parade.
A photo Swenson took of a rainbow over the remnants of the Pawleys Island Pier the day after Hurricane Ian was named the best spot news photo among mid-sized and large weeklies.
The judges said “who doesn’t love a rainbow? Such an inspiring shot when contrasted with the broken pier.”
Swenson’s reporting on the hurricane won him a third-place award in the mid-sized weeklies division.
For page design, Swenson took first place in the all-weekly division for a page of photos from the Grand Strand Camellia Show.
The judges said “I love the uniqueness of it. How you bound the shape around the flower and took ordinary photos, but in a way that made them extraordinary.”
Among a plethora of photos of young children hitting baseballs across all the weekly and daily divisions, Swenson’s photo of a little boy at a Waccamaw High summer camp earned him second place for a sports feature photo in the mid-sized weekly division.
Swenson also won a second-place award among mid-sized and large weeklies for his series of articles on the ongoing battle against litter.
A photo of the moon turning red during a lunar eclipse earned Swenson a third-place award for pictorial in the all-weekly division.
Swenson also grabbed a third-place award for growth and development beat reporting for small and mid-sized weeklies. His stories were about Georgetown County taking over Georgetown port, criticism of how the county manages growth, and a proposal to let Habitat for Humanity develop a county-owned property on Petigru Drive.
In the all-weekly division, Swenson won third place for editorial writing for pieces on tax reform, the Highway 17 median, and County Council giving first reading of ordinances by title only.
Staff writer Chris Sokoloski’s photo of Cub Scouts watching their cars race in the Pinewood Derby was named the best feature photo in the mid-sized weekly division.
The judges said “fine shot capturing genuine interest and expression of a boy’s rite of passage event.”
Sokoloski also won first place for faith beat reporting among all weekly and daily newspapers. Her stories were about a pastor who hand-carved wooden crosses, a deputy sheriff retiring and leaving a job at Belin Memorial United Methodist Church, and the sale of a former Presbyterian church in Georgetown.
The judges said “the story of the crosses was amazing. I loved the artwork to accompany it and the explanation behind what the different types of crosses meant to him.”
Sokoloski won a second-place award for business beat reporting among mid-sized and large weeklies for her reporting on the Liberty Steel mill, the new George Hotel, and White House Farms.
In the all-weekly division, Sokoloski won third place for sports beat reporting for stories on the Waccamaw High Athletics Hall of Fame, the Waccamaw High girls tennis team’s drive for a state title, and referee Joey Manigault being elected to the S.C. Basketball Officials Association Hall of Fame.
The Coastal Observer’s annual Beaches special edition won third place among all weeklies for feature section or magazine.