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Courier wins 9 awards
Papers website, front page best in Ga.
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Clockwise from top left: Courier publisher Mark Griffin, editor Hollie Barnidge, reporters Denise Etheridge, Katie McGurl and Patty Leon, business manager Kathryn Fox and Bryan County News editor Lori Wynn display the newspapers awards. - photo by Esther Griffin

The Coastal Courier recently earned several 2011 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 nine awards, including three first-place plaques for 1A page design, humorous column writing and best newspaper website. The paper also was honored with one second-place certificate for best online news project and five third-place certificates for photo essay, layout and design, spot news photo, sports photo and special issues.

“We were really thrilled that was named best newspaper website in Georgia in the weekly division,” Courier Publisher Mark Griffin said. “The Courier also won best page one for the second straight year and winning best humor column in the state was gratifying as well. It’s good to be recognized among peers in the industry. We value our staff for working hard to be voted among the best. Of course we also value our readers and advertisers who make it all possible.”

Courier managing editor Hollie Moore Barnidge took top honors in the humorous column writing and page 1A design categories.

“I’m thrilled my writing and page designs were so well-received,” Barnidge said. “Creating a print product we can be proud of — one that readers will enjoy and appreciate — is a challenge, but the Courier’s staff does not take that responsibility lightly. We’re constantly striving to improve and tell the stories that make our community unique.”

Courier sports writer Patty Leon won second place for best online news project and came in third in the photo essay, spot news photo and sports photo categories.

“Photography started out as a hobby for me many years ago. When I got a job at the Courier, I researched and learned what I could do to improve my techniques, and it’s nice to get recognized for those efforts,” Leon said.

For her online news project, Leon created a tribute to the late Liberty County Sheriff Don Martin.

“The sheriff was such a beloved guy in the community,” she said. “It was great to see this piece win an award because it paid tribute to someone who really cared about the folks in his community and the men and women of his department.”

The Courier’s sister paper, the Bryan County News, came in third in the lifestyles coverage category for its biweekly Life on the Hill section.

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 Covington News, the Calhoun Times and the Walker County Messenger, among others.

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