The Times' special report on gang activity and its series commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing through the eyes of Northeast Georgians were among four first-place awards the newspaper received Saturday from The Associated Press.
Also winning first-place honors was the paper's sports staff for its series last summer on the culture of competition and photographer Sara Guevara's photo essay on the Newtown community.
The winners were honored Saturday by the Georgia AP Association during its annual awards luncheon at the Macon Marriott City Center for articles and photographs published in 2009.
"It's been a good year for our news organization and the recognition by The Associated Press is certainly much appreciated," Publisher Dennis Stockton said. "It's always nice when others in the industry think you are doing a good job. Our reporters and editors work hard to give our readers the information they need every day, and it's great to see them honored for their work."
The Times' report, "Targeting Gangs," won first-place for public service. The three-day series was written by reporters Ashley Fielding, Stephen Gurr and Melissa Weinman. It told the story of gangs in Gainesville through the eyes of former gang members, law enforcement and the community at-large.
"One Small Step, One Giant Leap" won first place for non-deadline reporting. Chronicling the Apollo 11 moon mission through the eyes of local residents who were part of the effort, the series was written by Executive Editor Mitch Clarke, Managing Editor Keith Albertson, reporters Jeff Gill, Melissa Weinman and Carolyn Crist and former metro editor Edie Rogers.
"The Culture of Competition" won first place for sports writing. The five-part series that examined the relationship between sports and society was written by Sports Editor Brent Holloway, reporters Jon Zopf and Bill Murphy and former reporter Katie B. Davis.
Other awards won by The Times include:
Deadline reporting, third place, to Fielding, Brandee A. Thomas and former reporter Jessica Jordan for their coverage of Vice President Joe Biden's visit to
Dawsonville to announce a high-tech initiative.
Non-deadline reporting, third place, to Fielding for "Newtown: Neighbors at Odds."
Feature writing, second place, to Fielding for her profile
of Andrew Furey, an East Hall graduate with muscular dystrophy, during his first few days as a student at Georgia Tech.
Business writing, second place, to Fielding for her story of how chickens make it from the farm to the dinner table.
Beat reporting, second place, to Jordan for her coverage of education.
Editorial writing, third place, to Albertson for his editorial on the inauguration of Barack Obama.
Sports feature photo, second place to Scott Rogers.
Graphics and illustrations, third place, to Kristen
Morales for her graph of the level of Lake Lanier from the drought to just before the lake reached full pool last year.
"I'm very proud of our news staff," Clarke said. "They are committed to producing the best newspaper they can each and every day, and these awards are a celebration of that effort."
AP member newspaper editors in Indiana judged the Georgia newspapers' entries in four classes based on circulation.
The Times competes against other mid-sized daily newspapers such as the Rome News-Tribune, the Marietta Daily Journal, the Athens Banner-Herald and the Albany Herald.