Charlottesville Tomorrow’s coverage of housing and development took top honors at the Virginia Press Association’s annual awards ceremony this week. Led by reporter Erin O’Hare, reports about housing affordability and access won first place in the category of “government reporting” in open class — meaning any news organization in the Virginia Press Association could apply.
The judges called O’Hare’s package of three reports published in 2022, “Excellent people-driven housing stories focusing, in part, on the lower end of the housing spectrum.”
VPA Award: First Place for Government Reporting (Open)
Affordable mobile home parks are disappearing from Charlottesville — a new law may bring them back
“One thing that has never been that great in Charlottesville or Albemarle is, there are no places for people like me,” said Angela Durrer, a former mobile home park resident. “I don’t make that much money in a year, and even still, affordable housing over there, there is none.”
Eviction filings soar as rent relief program winds down
More than 100 people crammed into the Albemarle County courthouse Thursday for yet another marathon day of eviction hearings.
A developer’s plan to build new apartments in Scottsville shows just how unprecedented big projects are for the small town
Scottsville Town Council intended to vote on the project last week. Instead, it spent the first hour arguing over what kind of meeting it could have — or whether it could have one at all.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this type of work in this community, in my community,” said O’Hare. “Responsible, high-quality, in-depth journalism like this takes a lot of time and resources, and that’s only possible with the support we get from our readers. I’m glad to be part of an organization and community ready to invest in deep journalism.”
In another contest, which the judges called a “master-class in data journalism,” Charlottesville Tomorrow received first place in data reporting online for its ongoing series “Changing Charlottesville.” The series is reported by Erin O’Hare and Evan Mitchell, edited by Angilee Shah, with photos and visual design by Andrew Shurtleff and Ashley Harper, and data editing by Jonathan Kropko.
“Amazing deep-dive analysis of multiple datasets,” said the judges. “Richly layered with interactive elements. Human elements give strength and credibility to this series that hits home with readers. ‘Changing Charlottesville’ is a public service from start to finish.”
The Latest from Changing Charlottesville
Last spring, Charlotte Rene Woods, with Jessie Higgins editing, told a three-part story about trees in Charlottesville that wasn’t just about what we put in the ground. It was about history, environmental justice and how we design cities. The feature series took first place in the online category, and the judge said, “An entertaining read. An informative, well-written and well-researched series addressing an important subject.”
VPA Award: First Place Feature Series (Online)
Charlottesville’s 10th & Page has fewer trees and higher temperatures than other residential neighborhoods — and it’s not by accident
“What I think redlining and all of these nefarious urban planning decisions from the past show us is that decisions that we make can reverberate for a hundred years or more,” said Jeremy Hoffman, a researcher at the Science Museum of Virginia.
Charlottesville’s tree cover has dropped about 15% since 2004 — but there are ways to bring it back
“I think the idea of having places to gather and green spaces with trees will be good for me and my neighbors,” said South First Street resident Estephany Kepchar.
Managing editor Jessie Higgins and reporter Tamica Jean-Charles, along with CEO and editor-in-chief Angilee Shah, also took first place for breaking news online for their report after the November 2022 shooting at the University of Virginia.
UVA Police locked down campus during Sunday night’s manhunt, but did not alert community members living blocks away
“It’s scary to think that a shooter was loose in my city for so long and I had no idea,” Paige Robinson said. “We’re the same community.”
“We want to be there for our community, to fill in the holes of news reporting and help keep people informed on the things most important to them,” said Shah. “These awards are a recognition of the work and care of this newsroom — but also of the investment that so many people in our community have made in high-quality, locally-owned journalism.”
Independent photo journalist Éze Amos took second place in the category of “picture story or essay” published online for his visual storytelling of a weeks-long culinary training course at Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail run by Culinary Concepts AB.
A handful of people incarcerated at the local jail are training for careers in the culinary industry
“It made me realize that there is more that I can do,” said Tyreek Ragland, 25. “I feel like I learned a lot about cooking, and about myself.”
“The Virginia Press Association announced the winners in the 2022 VPA News & Advertising Contest during the 2023 VPA Conference and Awards Banquet, held on May 6 at the Short Pump Hilton,” the association said in its announcement “We celebrated the great work being done across the Commonwealth and handed out awards to well deserving recipients. Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for your impactful work.”
Last year, Charlottesville Tomorrow was honored by the VPA for its coverage of COVID-19.