JEKYLL ISLAND — The Times won first-place in general excellence for the third straight year, and the newspaper's series on the Chattahoochee River took two first-place honors in the annual Georgia Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
The awards, announced Friday at the GPA's 125th annual convention at Jekyll Island, were among 20 won by The Times. The first-place award in general excellence traditionally has meant that a newspaper is the best of its size in the state. The Times won the award for the third year in a row and the fourth time in six years.
Reporter Ashley Fielding and photographer Sara Guevara won awards for community service and best online news project for "The River's Reach," an eight-part look at the people whose livelihood depends on the Chattahoochee, which is at the center of a battle between Georgia, Alabama and Florida over how much water each should get.
Previously, the river project was honored with a Sigma Delta Chi award for community service from the Society of Professional Journalists.
The GPA awards celebrate the achievements of reporters, photographers, page designers and columnists in newsrooms across the state for work that was published in 2010.
"To be recognized as one of the state's top newspapers by those within our industry is always gratifying," said Dennis Stockton, publisher of The Times. "We are very proud of the work we do at The Times, and awards such as these are the result of excellent work by a lot of very dedicated and talented people."
In addition to her awards for the river series, Guevara also won first place for best photo essay for "From Seed to Market," a collection of photographs which followed a local farmer from planting to harvest.
Guevara won third place for best spot news photograph of a pedestrian who was stuck by a car while she was trying to cross Green Street.
The community service award was the second in as many years. The newspaper won last year for its series on E-911 services.
The Times also won first place for best special section for its annual Progress section. The sports staff won first place for best sports reporting.
Second-place awards were given for layout and design, headline writing, education coverage and religion coverage.
Photographer Scott Rogers won two second-place awards, one for best web photo taken at a high school track meet and for photo illustration for the cover of the paper's annual high school football preview section. He also won third place for feature photograph of a child on a waterslide.
Presentation Editor Colin Dunlop won second place for information graphics for a graphic that accompanied a story about the Clermont library controversy.
The newspaper won third-place awards for page one, local news coverage, education coverage and editorial page. Photographer Tom Reed won third for best web photo taken during a winter storm last year.
The Better Newspaper Contest is an annual competition to recognize the best print journalism in Georgia. The Times competes with Georgia's mid-sized daily newspapers, those with 15,000 to 39,999 daily circulation, including the Athens Banner-Herald, Rome News-Tribune and The Marietta Daily Journal.
General excellence is calculated by assigning point values to awards earned by each newspaper; the newspaper with the highest number of points wins in its category. Points earned in the separate GPA advertising contest are included in the point total.