JEKYLL ISLAND – The Times has been honored as one of Georgia’s best newspapers, taking the general excellence award for papers its size during a banquet Friday night at the annual Georgia Press Association convention.
The newspaper won a total of 33 awards, including 10 first-place awards, for its news, sports and lifestyle coverage.
The first-place award in general excellence traditionally has meant that a newspaper is the best of its size in the state.
"It certainly is an honor to be named the state’s best by peers in our industry," Times Publisher Dennis Stockton said. "We have worked hard to produce top-quality, locally driven sources of news and advertising. The dozens of awards we received this year from Georgia Press and the Associated Press, for both news and advertising, is a validation of that effort."
The newspaper also won first-place honors for investigative reporting and Page One.
The newspaper’s Web site, gainesvilletimes.com, won first-place for best online news project for "In the Eye of the Storm," a project commemorating the 10th anniversary of a deadly North Hall County tornado.
Sports writer Katie B. Davis and photographer Sara Guevara each won two first-place awards in the contest. Davis won first place for sports writing and for sports columns.
Guevara won for a spot news photo of two children huddled together in a fire station following last summer’s tornadoes. She also won for sports feature photo for her shot of a dejected Flowery Branch football player following the team’s defeat in the state championship game in December.
Other individual first-place honors went to reporter Ashley Bates for best religion coverage; columnist Harris Blackwood for best serious columns; photographer Scott Rogers for best feature photo; and chief photographer Tom Reed for best sports photo.
"We have built an amazing team of journalists in our newsroom," said Executive Editor Mitch Clarke. "They are committed to producing a quality newspaper everyday, and they love to tell the stories of the people of Northeast Georgia through words and photos. I’m incredibly proud of all they have accomplished."
The newspaper took second place for Community Service, Local News Coverage, Editorial Writing, Sports Section and Layout and Design.
Second-place individual awards went to Guevara and Rogers for best online photo gallery for their photos from Flowery Branch’s championship game loss; Guevara for photo essay for her shots of Emily Ibarra’s quince años; Rogers for best online photo for the annual Little League parade and for sports feature photo for a Flowery Branch basketball shot; and Blackwood for business coverage and for humorous columns.
Sports Editor Brent Holloway won a second-place award for sports columns, and the news staff won second and third places for hard news coverage.
Other third-place awards include Editorial Page and Lifestyle Coverage.
Third-place individual awards went to reporter Jessica Jordan for education coverage; Reed for feature photo for his shot of a child milking a cow; Clarke for humorous columns; Rogers for sports photo; and Senior Design Editor Kristen Morales for photo illustration.
The GPA awards are the latest in a series of successes for The Times. In April, the newspaper won 21 awards, including picture of the year, from the Associated Press. Also in April, The Times won 16 awards, including nine first places, in the GPA annual advertising contest.
"Since the acquisition of The Times by our company in 2004, we have consistently been recognized as one of the state’s best news organizations," Stockton said. "Newspapers continue to serve a vital role in all communities, and it is gratifying to be recognized as the best at what we do."