The Winston-Salem Journal won third place for General Excellence among large newspapers during the annual N.C. Press Association’s Winter Institute on Thursday night.

The General Excellence Awards were the highlight of the press association's 2013 News, Editorial & Photojournalism Contest presentation. More than 600 awards for editorial excellence in different categories were given at the Hill Alumni Center at UNC Chapel Hill.

The Fayetteville Observer won first place; The News & Observer of Raleigh came in second.

“I’m very proud of the work and accomplishments of the Journal team,” Journal Managing Editor John X. Miller said. “Writing, newspaper design and editorial excellence are among our strengths. We appreciate the awards, but we’re just trying to do journalism that informs and edifies our community.”

Journal Editorial Editor John Railey won second place for public service for his advocacy for victims of the state’s sterilization program. Railey also won third place in the editorials category.

Several other Journal staffers also won individual awards.

Reporter Wesley Young won first place in feature writing, and retired sports columnist Lenox Rawlings won first place in sports columns. The Journal staff won second place in feature section design. Reporter Michael Hewlett won third place in criticism.

Rawlings retired from the Journal in December of 2012 after 35 years with the paper, most of them spent as a sports columnist. A graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, Rawlings worked at The News & Observer, the Greensboro Daily News and the Atlanta Constitution before coming to the Journal in 1976. His award was for his departing column at the Journal.

Young comes from Bessemer City and is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate. He has been at the Journal since 1999, and worked previously at the Henderson Daily Dispatch and the Salisbury Post. His award was for a feature story about Gladys Doub’s surprise birthday party.

The Journal’s staff award for feature section design was for an entry that included text and photos on the subject of Soups to Savor that appeared in January 2013.

Railey is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and joined the newspaper in 1997. His award was for editorials pushing Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders to approve compensation for victims of North Carolina’s forced sterilization program. McCrory and the legislature approved that compensation last summer.

Hewlett is a Richmond native and a graduate of Washington & Lee University, where he received a BA in journalism with concentrations in history and English. He is the legal affairs reporter and joined the Journal in 2002. His award was for a review of Rain Pryor’s one-woman show, “Fried Chicken and Latkes,” which played during the National Black Theatre Festival last year.

In addition, Brant Wilkerson-New, a Journal sports reporter, picked up an award from The Associated Press.

Wilkerson-New was this year’s winner of the AP’s Walter Spearman Award, which recognizes outstanding writing by a journalist with two years or less experience on a North Carolina daily newspaper.

The Journal’s advertising department was also recognized. Justin Gomez, the Journal’s marketing director, and artist Richard Boyd won “Best in Show” in the statewide ad contest. They were honored for a series of historical ads called “We Were There.” That award also was presented Thursday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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