The Coastal Courier recently earned several 2010 Georgia Press Association awards, which representatives from the newspaper received Friday at the association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest awards ceremony and banquet on Jekyll Island. The prizes recognize the best newspapers in Georgia for their achievements in reporting, writing, photography, website content creation, newspaper page design and videography.
The Courier took home seven awards, including four first-place plaques for best sports photo, 1A page design, best website and best online project. The paper also was honored with two second-place certificates for special section/issue design and online news project, and a third-place certificate for hard news writing.
“We are really proud of our news staff for receiving first-place awards for best front page, best sports photograph and best website in Georgia,” Courier Publisher Mark Griffin said. “Local news and information is still vitally important to communities like Liberty County, and we’re committed to doing the best job we can for our readers. We’re thankful to our readers and advertisers for making it all possible.”
Courier sports editor Patty Leon took top honors in the sports photo and online news project categories and also came in second in the online news project category.
“The sports photo was one of those once-in-a-lifetime shots. I thought it was great that the judges chose that photo. I had an opportunity to see the other photos I was up against at the awards banquet and there were many great shots by the other photographers, so to be singled out as the best was humbling,” Leon said.
“Taking first and second for best online news projects was a surprise. Writing the stories, putting together the photo galleries and editing and producing the videos is very time-consuming. It’s nice to be recognized for the effort,” she said.
Military reporter Denise Etheridge and Ross Blair, who works for the Courier’s sister paper, the Bryan County News, came in third in the hard news writing category for their shared coverage of Richmond Hill Marine Capt. Matthew Freeman’s death.
“It was a sad note on which to begin my military-writing career,” Etheridge said. “But I’m glad we could give Capt. Freeman’s story the coverage it deserved.” The story was one of the first Etheridge wrote as a Courier staffer.
The newspapers were judged in divisions based on publication frequency and circulation. The Courier competes with other biweeklies and triweeklies with 20,000 or less circulations, including the St. Marys Tribune & Georgian, the Monroe Walton Tribune and the Cornelia Northeast Georgian, among others.
“We faced some tough competition and ended up doing very well,” Courier Editor Hollie Moore Barnidge said. “It’s an honor to be recognized by our peers for all of our hard work, and I am so incredibly proud of the Courier’s talented, dedicated staff. We couldn’t produce a solid product without everyone’s help and cooperation.”