Inside Appalachia: Award Winning Stories Worth Telling

May 13, 2016

On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’re featuring some of our team's award winning Appalachian stories from the last year.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting recently won seven of eleven awards from the regional Associated Press and six regional Murrow Awards. This show highlights just a few of the stories recognized as good journalism.

Edward R. Murrow Awards are given by an organization called the Radio Television Digital News Association that honors “outstanding achievements in electronic journalism."  The organization is also dedicated to remembering Edward Murrow, a journalist from the 1950s.  He’s known for his pursuit of excellence in the field and is well known for his cautionary speech about electronic media called, “Wires and Lights in a Box” in 1958.

West Virginia competed with news organizations from throughout Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  The stories in this week's episode will move onto the national competition. Those winners will be announced in June.

Top award winners include:

  • Jessica Lilly for best host
  • Inside Appalachia's team for best documentary
  • Ashton Marra for best hard news feature
  • Glynis Board for writing and investigative journalism 
  • Liz McCormick for best use of sound


  • Boone County: Less Coal, Less Money, Fewer Miners

Comfort, W.Va.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal production from this past year was expected to be the lowest level since 1986.  Thousands of miners have lost their jobs since March 2012.  West Virginia has long relied on the industry for jobs and tax revenue. Some families are going out of state to find work but sometimes that doesn’t even workout. Ashton Marra’s award winning report from August of last year explores how the declining demand for coal is playing out in the state.

That story won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award in the category of hard news issues.

  •  What Happens When Strangers With Cameras Travel Inside Appalachia?

It’s a complicated topic that many Appalachians have strong feelings about. Since president Lyndon B. Johnson declared the "War on Poverty", Appalachia has been center stage for images representing the poor. Sometimes these pictures have brought shame to the region and embarrassment to the families in the images. The reality of this history has created a tension and often distrust to "outsider" photographers and reporters. On this show, listen to a clip of an episode that explores the complexities of this conversation.

Credit Malcolm Wilson/ Humans of Central Appalachia

  •  Gas Well Interaction Can be a Boom to Some, Disaster for Others in West Virginia

When natural gas drillers use extreme pressure to drill and crack rocks thousands of feet underground – when they frack for natural gas, for example, sometimes nearby conventional gas wells will suddenly see production double, or triple. When drilling processes of a new well affects an already existing one, it’s called well communication. Sometimes it’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s not.  In this story, Glynis Board takes a closer look at a little known - and less understood effect of the natural gas drilling happening in northern and north central West Virginia.

Harrison County resident Dave Hill and his wife Sue Hill stand next to a cement gas well plug that they found on their property.
Credit Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This story won a Murrow for writing. It was also named the Best Investigative Report in both West Virginia and Virginia by the Associated Press, a non-profit organization that’s one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent news gathering. 

  • Joy in Sadness, Harpers Ferry's Civil War Christmas

Every year, dozens of people in Harpers Ferry recreate Christmas, 1864. It's fun for locals and visitors to see how people in Victorian-era West Virginia celebrated Christmas. But it's also a reminder of how bittersweet life can be for people looking for a bit of good cheer in the midst of a long and terrible war. Liz McCormick brings us this look at a Civil War Christmas.

Credit Liz McCormick

McCormick's story won a Murrow for Best Use of Sound and was selected as the Best Radio Feature for the two Virginias by the Associated Press.

Music in this show was provided by Andy Agnew Jr., Ben Townsend, ,Jake Schepps, and Dinosaur Burps.    

Our producer is Roxy Todd. Today’s show was edited by Glynis Board. Our audio mixer is Zander Aloi.

We want to connect with you! E-mail us at Find us on Twitter @InAppalachia or @JessicaYLilly.