J.D. Sumner named Employee of The Year

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- Government writer J.D. Sumner was honored by Publisher Mike Gebhart Tuesday as The Albany Herald's Employee of the Year for 2010.

Sumner, who has been with The Herald since 2005, topped a field of five nominees to be recognized for his achievements.

"J.D. was selected in part because of his innovation in helping move the paper into the digital age, which made him the logical choice," Gebhart said.

In addition to Sumner, the other top employee nominees were Phil Cody (advertising), Charles Holsey (production), Belinda Walker (circulation), and Calvin Wright (mailroom).

"All five nominees were worthy choices who share common characteristics," Gebhart said. "They all believe in what we do, are not clock watchers and are innovative and think outside of the box."

Hired as a part-time photographer right out of high school by his hometown newspaper, The Tifton Gazette, Sumner has 10 years of news experience.

"Nothing about our jobs is about the individual," Sumner, 27, said. "To put out a daily newspaper takes a team effort. The paper succeeds or fails as a team. I was surprised to be named to a company of people who, because of the economy, have had to do more with less.

"To be honored by your peers is honestly overwhelming."

Sumner has an associate's degree from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in journalism with a bachelor's degree in English from Valdosta State University. He also studied media law at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

He has been the recipient of several Associated Press awards for his news coverage, including awards for best photo portfolio and best news story.

He has been a guest on the Fox News' show "The O'Reilly Factor" and has been published throughout the state and the Southeastern United States and globally through the Internet.

Sumner came to The Herald in December 2005 as the police and public safety reporter. In January 2009 he began covering the Albany-Dougherty County government beat.