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Times awarded as best in state
Morris CEO honored for 50-year career; paper wins 11 firsts
0619GPA.Morris award
Charles H. Morris, center, chairman and CEO of Morris Multimedia Inc., receives his presentation into the Georgia Press Association’s Golden Club from group president Laura Geiger. At right is Charles Hill Morris Jr., publisher of The Covington News. - photo by For The Times

The Times earned 24 awards, including a first-place in general excellence for the second straight year, among mid-sized daily newspapers in the annual Georgia Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

The awards were announced Friday night at the group’s yearly convention in Jekyll Island.

Also at the convention, Chairman and CEO Charles H. Morris of Morris Multimedia Inc., The Times’ parent company, earned induction into the GPA’s Golden Club. The club honors individuals who have worked in the newspaper industry for 50 years or more, at least 40 of those in Georgia.

The Times won 11 first-place awards, including overall wins for page one, layout and design, lifestyle coverage, business coverage and for community service for a series on 911 services.

“It’s always nice to be honored for excellence by your peers,” Times publisher Dennis L. Stockton said. “Our readers and advertising customers are the best judges of our daily efforts, and we try to consistently provide them with a newspaper and website that meets their needs. The Times has a lot of talented and dedicated employees and it is good to see them receive well-deserved recognition.”

Five Times staffers won individual first-place awards, including photographer Sara Guevara for a photo essay on Newtown; Executive Editor Mitch Clarke for serious columns; reporter Ashley Fielding for hard news writing; features writer Ashley Bates for religion coverage; and former reporter Jessica Jordan for education coverage.

“We have an amazingly talented group of young journalists who strive every day to produce interesting and compelling stories for our readers in Northeast Georgia,” Clarke said. “It is indeed an honor to be recognized for that work by our peers in the industry, and I could not be more proud of The Times’ news team and the newspaper they produce each day.”

The Times earned second place in local news coverage and third place for its website, sports section, editorial page and for an online project, The Blitz, covering high school football.

Second-place individual awards went to photographer Tom Reed, spot news photo; and Guevara, photo essay.

Third-place awards were won by Guevara and Scott Rogers, website photo gallery; Rogers, sports photograph and Web photo; Katie B. Davis, sports column; Clarke, humorous column; and Fielding, investigative reporting.

The Times competed with papers with 15,000 to 39,999 daily circulation, including the Athens Banner-Herald, Rome News-Tribune and The Marietta Daily Journal.

Morris’ induction into the Golden Club honors a lifetime in the newspaper business.

Morris began his newspaper career as a carrier boy for The Augusta Chronicle, which was owned by his father. He later worked for the Daily Oklahoman and the St. Petersburg Times, where he worked in almost every department.

He joined the Savannah Morning News as a reporter in 1960 and was named publisher in 1966. In 1970, he started his own company, which today includes 70 publications in 10 states and the Virgin Islands, as well as 11 network television stations in the South.