MACON — The Times’ story of two sisters being reunited with a younger sister who their mother sold for drugs in 1988 won Story of the Year honors Saturday at the 2012 Georgia Associated Press Association awards luncheon.
“Finally Found,” written by the newspaper’s metro editor Shannon Casas, also won first place for feature writing. Casas picked up a third first-place award for graphics and illustrations for her illustration of lake levels and rainfall over the last five years, part of the paper’s “Our Lake in Crisis” series.
The honors were among 10 first-place awards and 20 overall given to the newspaper during the AP’s annual luncheon at the Macon Marriott City Center. The contest included articles and photographs published in 2011.
The Times won more awards than any other newspaper in its classification.
“Each year the judges in the AP contest get to review some of the state’s finest journalism,” said Dennis Stockton, publisher of The Times. “It is certainly gratifying to be considered among the best of that group. Any time you earn recognition from those within the industry it makes you feel like you are doing good things for the readers you serve. We’re proud of our newspaper and website and are honored to be recognized by AP.”
In the first year in which the AP contest included awards for online content, The Times swept both categories.
The newspaper’s website, gainesvilletimes.com, won for best website, and “Ruin and Rebirth,” the newspaper’s online commemoration of the 1936 tornado, which included a unique 22-minute documentary, won for best online coverage of a single news story.
The newspaper’s coverage of a young man who killed his mother and stabbed his aunt before being shot by deputies in the Harbour Point subdivision won first-place in deadline reporting for reporters Ashley Fielding and Jeff Gill.
“Out of Bounds” won first place for sports writing. The three-part series that examined college football recruiting was written by sports editor Brent Holloway, reporter Bill Murphy and former reporter Adam Krohn.
“Gambling on HOPE,” an in-depth look at the Georgia Lottery and the HOPE scholarship by former reporter Dallas Duncan, won first place for non-deadline reporting.
Chief photographer Tom Reed won two first-place awards. He won for feature photo for the image of a candlelight vigil at North Georgia College & State University. He won for picture story for his series of photographs from a church’s camp meeting.
AP member newspaper editors in Illinois 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.
The Times’ second-place awards included:
• Public service for “Our Lake in Crisis,” coverage by Fielding and Gill of Lake Lanier.
• Business coverage for former reporter Tricia Nadolny’s story about the difficulties local teens had finding work.
• Feature writing for Nadolny’s story on the 1936 tornado.
• Graphics and Illustrations for former presentation editor Colin Dunlop’s map highlighting the events of the Harbour Point shooting.
Third-place awards included:
• Beat reporting for Fielding’s government and politics coverage.
• Public service for Gill’s series on the condition of Hall County bridges.
• Feature photo for photographer Scott Rogers.
• Photo illustration for Rogers.
• Editorial writing for managing editor Keith Albertson’s editorial about the controversy over a piece of art at Gainesville State College.
• Business coverage for Nadolny’s story of upgrades to Lakeshore Mall.
• Non-deadline reporting for “A Taxing Change,” a multipart series that examined proposed tax changes in the 2011 General Assembly by former reporters Carolyn Crist and Melissa Weinman.