April 6, 2019
Contact: Betsy Edwards


NORFOLK, Va. –  Laurence Hammack, a longtime environmental reporter for The Roanoke Times has been named Outstanding Journalist of the Year by the Virginia Press Association; Sarah King, a promising journalist from Richmond Magazine, has been named Outstanding Young Journalist of the Year; and Feletia Sharples from the Northern Virginia Daily has been named Outstanding Sales Professional of the Year.

The three winners exemplified the best of their profession through excellent skills and a commitment to their respective crafts.

2018 Outstanding Journalist of the Year: Laurence Hammack, The Roanoke Times

When noting Hammack’s portfolio of work, judges said his writing was “distinctive for its focus and depth.” Eight out of 10 of the articles in Hammack’s portfolio dealt with the Mountain Valley Pipeline–a controversial and polarizing issue in Southwest Virginia.

On writing about the pipeline, judges said: “Hammack’s reporting is thorough, fair and fastidious, as he sorts through the many legal and regulatory challenges. His sources include protestors and bureaucrats as well as the coalition behind the interstate natural gas pipeline.  He relies on both documents and interviews with key figures in the controversy, weaving the material into hard-hitting narratives. Datelines like ‘Sinking Creek’ and ‘Pembroke’ are testaments to the fact he gets out of the office to see the massive project first-hand.”

On the other two stories in the portfolio that dealt with subjects other than the Mountain Valley Pipeline, judges said: “Hammack is not a one-trick pony…His portfolio also includes a well-crafted feature on the fragility of Natural Bridge, now a state park, and a clear explainer on the four-year delay in a proposed wind farm in Botetourt County.”

Concluding their statements, judges said: “Hammack’s dogged reporting and sparkling writing warrant his being recognized as Virginia’s Outstanding Journalist.”    

2018 Outstanding Young Journalist of the Year: Sarah King, Richmond Magazine

In awarding King Outstanding Young Journalist for 2018, judges noted her “remarkable range and narrative skill” when reporting both hard news and features.

Judges said: “Each story is deeply reported and sometimes accompanied by relevant data and charts.  Her writing – whether hard news or feature — is graceful, taking the time to set a scene but not unnecessarily prolonging the story.”

Judges also praised King for her variety in subject matter: “Included in this portfolio were stories on substantive topics such as land development, educational practices and policies, police and crime and domestic violence asylum.”

Closing their comments, judges said: “Regardless of the subject, Sarah displays an ability to both explain complicated policies and reflect the stories of ordinary people. It’s a winning combination that merits her selection as Virginia’s Outstanding Young Journalist for 2018.”

2018 Outstanding Sales Professional of the Year:  Feletia Sharples – Northern Virginia Daily

In nominating Sharples for Outstanding Sales Professional of the Year, her publisher noted: “She is never afraid to try something. If it works, she will make it bigger and better. If it doesn’t work, she will either take a different approach or say, ‘I tried.’ Her personal goals are often higher than the goals we set for her.”

Also noted in the nomination was Sharples’ connection to her community: “Feletia’s relationships in the community are priceless. She is out and about constantly promoting what we have to offer as the hometown community news organization.”

In 2018, the publisher said, Sharples helped the paper increase revenue by 12 percent from the previous year. She did this through “small and midsize accounts with no ‘windfalls’ in the increase.”

Concluding the nomination letter, the publisher said: “Feletia is very much a team player, both contributing to planning and discussion and taking ideas away from our discussions. As a publisher, we’d all like to have many like Feletia working with us.”



The judging for the 2018 contest was conducted by journalists in Iowa.

For more information about the contest results go to: