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Post and Courier receives 5 feature writing awards in national contest

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Santee tributaries.JPG

You can still see traces of old rice fields amid the tributaries of the Santee Delta near the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center. Lauren Petracca/Staff

The Post and Courier earned five first-place awards in a national features journalism contest with stories about cancer, nutrition and threats to the Santee Delta. It was the best showing for a newspaper with a circulation under 100,000.

The Society of Features Journalism honors the nation's best storytelling and design work. The Post and Courier won the following awards:

Projects reporter Jennifer Hawes won the best "features portfolio" award for three narratives. Judges said her work was moving and filled with "well-researched storytelling. Telling stories of our community that make a difference is what the best of features journalism does, and this writer does it extremely well." Referring to Last Rights, a story Hawes wrote about a man's battle with cancer, the judge said it "had me literally weeping."

Projects reporters Tony Bartelme and Glenn Smith, along with photographer Lauren Petracca, won the best "general feature" award for Our Secret Delta, a report about the threats to South Carolina's Santee Delta ecosystem.

Judges said the writing was "a masterclass in sense of place. Line after line — from the thwack of deer flies on skin at the outset to the twilit grass that puts the story to rest — is vibrant and tactile, in the way that can only be achieved when reporters spend ample time in the field."

Bartelme also won first place for "integrated storytelling" for his report, The AGEs Puzzle, an investigation into a substance in processed food that causes chronic diseases. Judges said Bartelme "breaks down a difficult topic, digests it and serves it up to readers in terms they can easily understand."

Food reporter Hanna Raskin won a first-place award for a portfolio of food stories, with judges calling them "timely, well-reported and expertly written." Raskin also won a first-place award in "food criticism" for a story about a Charleston restaurant that warned her not to come in and review their food. Judges wrote: "While a review always reflects the perspective of the critic who wrote it, he or she is just an emissary of the people who have to think twice before plunking down $100 for dinner on a random Tuesday night."

Reach Tony Bartelme at 843-937-5554. Follow him on Twitter @tbartelme.

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