Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Commentary: BNC receives honors in magazine competition


Surveys rating North Carolina among the 50 states roll into our office routinely. The themes often have a political bias, but they tend to be predictable: The state ranks high in economic growth, affordability and credit ratings. We come out lower in K-12 education performance, teacher pay and venture-capital availability.

Since we’re the ninth-most populous state, my expectation is that the state should rank at least ninth-best in most measures. Not much science behind that viewpoint, but it makes sense to me.

By that measure, I think Business North Carolina is holding up its end of the bargain as one of the nation’s best statewide business magazines. One of our key metrics is annual recognition by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers, which recently awarded us a half-dozen honors based on judging by journalism professors from the University of Missouri.

It’s become an industry ritual for Senior Contributing Editor Ed Martin to win top honors for “best body of work,” and this year was no different. “Innate curiosity, dogged reporting and fine writing shine through Ed Martin’s stories,” the judges wrote. I’d add “fairness” because Ed’s stories tackle complex subjects with a balanced approach that inevitably peeves a few readers while winning plaudits from many more. A good example is his story on how the MillerCoors plant closing affected Eden, named a winner for local coverage of a national business story. “This is a deftly woven tale of how corporate decisions leave scars on hardworking towns,” they added.

Contributor Pam Kelley’s piece on Self-Help Credit Union CEO Martin Eakes won top honors as a profile. The story “reveals his personality, his motivation and his drive. It’s an insight into an unusual businessman,” the judges noted.

Other stories earning praise included a series describing the impact of Hurricane Matthew in southeastern North Carolina six months after the storm caused horrible flooding. Our goal was to alert people in the state’s population centers about the devastation in a mostly rural, slower-growing region.

Art Director Kathryn Galloway also deserves praise for a silver award for Best Overall Design. Many business publications settle for photos of CEOs standing at attention. At times, so do we. But Kathryn presses monthly to make the magazine look distinctive with clever, thoughtful concepts. Last August’s dill pickle cover still inspires chuckles. “[BNC] does a great job of looking at stories to determine if something’s best told in graphics, text, photographs or illustrations.”

Finally, our Daily Digest email of the state’s key business stories impressed the judges. “The tone is conversational, inviting, approachable. … It feels personalized, intentional.” Please add the Daily Digest, at, to your morning reading ritual as a way to better understand how North Carolina works — or to learn the locations of the state’s best hot dog stands.

Whether BNC ranks ninth or higher isn’t a valid measure, because unfortunately, many states no longer support a statewide monthly business publication. But North Carolina’s economic vibrancy and our owners’ commitment makes for a happier story. For 38 years, it’s been a privilege to produce this magazine, which relies on our advertisers and readers. We consider each of you an award winner, too.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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