From the Newsroom
The day-to-day, behind the scenes life at Charlottesville Tomorrow.

Before I started working at Charlottesville Tomorrow, I found Jessie Higgins’ reporting on COVID-19 essential for navigating local resources and issues in the crisis.

That’s why I am especially proud that Jessie and our newsroom was honored by the Virginia Press Association for the entire body of work. The reports were edited by Elliot Robinson and Erin O’Hare. The honor is a testament to the entire news team, which provided essential information in the most difficult of circumstances.

Jessie’s reporting, the judges said, is “exceptionally clear” and “makes complicated topics understandable.” The group of stories “tackles COVID-related angles that many others didn’t.”

The Virginia Press Association announced winners of the 2021 VPA News & Advertising Awards during a four-day celebration from April 25 through 28. Charlottesville Tomorrow received nine awards, including one Best In Show and three first place awards. 

“It’s always exciting to come together to celebrate the best journalism from across Virginia,” said Betsy Edwards, Executive Director of the Virginia Press Association during Thursday’s Best In Show virtual ceremony. “We had more than 3,000 entries in this year’s contest, making each category competitive.”

Jessie, our managing editor, took the Best In Show distinction in the Online News division for her COVID-19 coverage. For the second year in a row, Jessie, government reporter Charlotte Rene Woods and photographer Mike Kropf also took home multiple awards.

It’s a great chance to look back at an incredible year and appreciate the work of reporters. Thank you for being part of this community and sharing information and your perspectives to help get these stories out.

Angilee Shah

Here are all of our 2021 VPA awards, with judges’ comments:


Dr. Steven Zeichner works in his lab on a universal coronavirus vaccine.

Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow


Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow

First Place: Feature Story Writing (excluding obituaries):
Charlotte Rene Woods and Jessie Higgins

What could happen to Charlottesville’s Confederate monuments? Here’s where 29 others in Virginia ended up.

VPA judges said, “An excellent in-depth look at the difficult decision on what to do with Confederate monuments that have been removed. A fresh and important angle.”



Credit: Mike Kropf / Charlottesville Tomorrow

First Place: Pictorial Photo
Mike Kropf

Stars stump for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in Richmond and Charlottesville this weekend

VPA judges note, “Many emotions and feelings on the political trail captured well here. Facial features, expressions, positioning. Bravo.”




Robert King has cleaned every grave stone in Daughters of Zion Cemetery, most of them more than once.

Credit: Photo by Eze Amos

Second Place: Feature Story Writing (excluding obituaries):
Erin O’Hare

From this long-neglected cemetery in the heart of Charlottesville, a handful of volunteers are unearthing stories of Charlottesville’s Black forebears

Judges say, “Great description and wonderful stories about the people buried in the once neglected cemetery.”



Credit: Mike Kropf / Charlottesville Tomorrow

Second Place: General News Photo
Mike Kropf

Republican gubernatorial candidate Youngkin rallys in Henrico County, calling campaign a ‘movement’

VPA judges said, “The unique lighting of the situation works for this image because of the face line of the subject stands out well.



Passengers wait at the Greyhound bus stop on Ridge Street in sweltering heat. The bus station, in the background, is closed and up for sale.

Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Third Place: Feature Story Writing (excluding obituaries):
Erin O’Hare

Charlottesville Greyhound patrons kicked to the curb: Bus station demoted to a stop on Ridge Street

VPA judges say, “Nicely told through the passengers’ perspective. Great description.”



Students exit Buford Middle School in Charlottesville on April 22, 2021.

Third Place: Education Writing
Charlotte Rene Woods

Critical race theory has suddenly become a key issue in the only contested Albemarle County School Board race

Public school staff may not need to use personal sick days if taking leave related to COVID-19

State bill to emphasize Black history reverberates locally

VPA judges note, “Good topics. well fleshed out.”



Participants of a Black Lives Matter noise demonstration march down the Downtown Mall on April 19, 2021.

Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Third Place: Personality or Portrait Photo
Mike Kropf

Noise demonstration in downtown Charlottesville

VPA judges say, “Historical documentation …can imagine being there.”