Herald wins eight Georgia Press Association awards

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- Education writer Ethan Fowler won the top award for investigative journalism in The Albany Herald's classification in the Georgia Press Association's 2010 Better Newspaper Contest.

Herald government reporter J.D. Sumner received second place in the investigative category, and won a first place in photography for spot news coverage.

In all, The Herald won eight awards in the competition among Georgia newspapers with circulations between 15,000 and 40,000. All of the work entered in the contest was performed in 2009. The awards were announced this weekend at the GPA's annual meeting at Jekyll Island.

"Our great staff of journalists work hard to continually provide the Albany area with the best local news in our community," Herald Publisher Michael J. Gebhart, executive vice president of Southern Community Newspapers Inc., said. "I'm thrilled to see each of them recognized for their outstanding contribution." Gebhart was elected to a term on the GPA board last week.

Fowler's award was in recognition for his work on an incident in which former Dougherty County School System teacher Abraham Wesley was accused of sending sexually oriented text message to a student.

Fowler's investigation of Wesley's job application with the school system revealed a number of red flags that school system officials were unaware of from the system's background check. As a result, the Dougherty School System implemented measures to ensure more thorough background checks of personnel.

Sumner's first-place photo was a spot news event in which an Albany firefighter was helped from a burning building on Flint Avenue. His second place investigative award was for his coverage of the troubles of former Albany downtown manager Don Buie, a six-month saga that ended with Buie entering a plea deal a few days before Christmas.

Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher won second place in serious commentary for his twice-weekly opinion column that appears on The Herald's editorial page.

Former sports writer Scott Chancey also won a second place for sports writing.

The Herald's metro staff won third place in religion coverage.

The newspaper's news desk won two awards for page design. The desk won third place for layout and design, and second place for Page One design.