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CityView TODAY receives press awards


CityView TODAY received top honors from the North Carolina Press Association on Thursday night for its coverage of the allegations made by former Fayetteville City Councilwoman Tisha Waddell and challenging the City Council’s decision to restrict public access to meetings while renovations were being done to City Hall.

It was one of two awards CityView TODAY received during the press association’s annual editorial banquet.

Tony Wooten received a second-place award in general photography for a photo of protesters marching on Skibo Road following the fatal shooting of Jason Walker in January.

The Henry Lee Weathers Freedom of Information Award, sponsored by the Associated Press, honors journalists or newspapers “for exceptional work in advancing or upholding the cause of open government and freedom of information.’’

Reporter Greg Barnes and columnist Bill Kirby Jr. received a first-place award for their work investigating allegations by Waddell and challenging the City Council’s decision to limit public access to meetings while renovations were being done to City Hall.

Waddell resigned from the City Council in mid-November, leaving behind a five-page resignation letter alleging corruption and a lack of transparency in city government.

Barnes spent more than a month investigating Waddell’s allegation that the mayor and others were secretly trying to let a private equity firm take over the Fayetteville Public Works Commission for 30 years in exchange for $750 million paid upfront.

Barnes made numerous public records requests and began poring over reams of emails and documents. Although he uncovered no signs of corruption, Barnes found evidence showing that the mayor and others were working secretly to make a deal with the equity firm.

Barnes and Kirby also challenged the city’s decision to keep reporters from attending government meetings in person, blaming the pandemic and renovations to City Hall.

When renovations began, the city started meeting in a much smaller room at the FAST Transit Center. It set up a television in the lobby where reporters were told to watch the meetings remotely. At one meeting, Kirby was momentarily blocked from entering the building.

Kirby, Barnes and CityView TODAY editor Lorry Williams sent emails to the city manager, urging the city to find a meeting room large enough to accommodate the public and the press.

Kirby also wrote columns about the issue, and Barnes wrote a story quoting an attorney for the N.C. Press Association saying the city was violating the open meetings laws.

A reporter for CityView TODAY was later allowed inside the meeting room for council meetings, but the public was not allowed back inside until the renovations were completed at City Hall.


CityView TODAY, N.C. Press Awards, Greg Barnes, Bill Kirby Jr., Tony Wooten, Henry Lee Weathers Freedom of Information Award