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Lightning wins 8 awards in national newspaper contest

The Hendersonville Lightning won eight awards in the National Newspaper Association's 2014 Better Newspaper Contest, including first place honors for its feature on the drive to recruit the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to Mills River and its lookback 20 years later at the 1993 "Storm of the Century" and for its website,


An 8,000-word feature on the successful effort by the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development to land the brewery, "Big Forest" (the code name for the project) was recognized as the best business story in the weekly division. The feature was an "absolutely phenomenal piece of work from start to finish," judges said. "This entry truly embodies what a business feature story should be. Rich and full of details, this story grabs the reader and leads them through until the end."

"Storm of the Century" won for best feature story. "Making history come alive is sometimes an inundating task, but you made it look easy," the judges said. "Great amount of time and effort is shown in this story. Great read."

The NNA judges said was the best website in the U.S. across all circulation categories of daily and non-daily newspapers that entered the contest.
"All of the elements of a great site are right here," the judges said. "Easy navigation, excellent integration of ads, which don't distract from the copy. Excellent use of photos at the top of the stories. You've used a nice balance of color and white space. The color doesn't distract, but there isn't so much white space to make it like many 'clean' sites today. This gives it life.
"Excellent integration of social icons in the comment area. The breakout boxes look very nice with each story. Poll questions are a great way to get readers involved. ... People can easily go to the section they need, then look at what's happening around them. ... Your mobile site is excellent — extremely easy to navigate, easy to read."
The Lightning also won a second place award for an editorial on Gov. Pat McCrory's veto of a bill relaxing immigration hiring for farmers, headlined "McCrory to farmers: Drop dead."

And it won honorable mentions for its coverage of Mountain 1st Bank, the Sam Neill trust account theft ("Legal fights imperil restitution promises"), a news obituary of Bush Laughter ("A mountain original passes away") and for a column ("Other towns would welcome such problems") pointing out that complaints about parking and crowded dance space were a result of Main Street's success.

The news stories, editorial and column were written by Lightning editor Bill Moss, who founded Lightning Media Inc. in 2012. The newspaper's designer/paginator is Denise Ward. was designed in collaboration with Moss by Drew Hannush, of HannushWeb in Greenville, S.C.
Newspapers submitted 1,862 entries in the Better Newspaper Contest. Established in 1885, the National Newspaper Association is the voice of America's community newspapers and the largest newspaper association in the country.