Albany Herald wins 11 AP awards

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany Herald has won 11 awards, including first place in deadline reporting and editorial writing, in the Georgia Associated Press News Excellence Awards competition for work produced in 2010.

The awards were announced Saturday at the annual AP luncheon in Macon. The Herald competed in Class AAA, which includes eight Georgia newspapers with circulation between 15,000 and 40,000.

Under the deadline reporting category, The Herald won first place for its package on Dec. 21, 2010 regarding the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County's bid to purchase Palmyra Medical Center from HCA. That story was first reported by staff writer Jennifer Maddox Parks on the newspaper's website, www.albanyherald.com.

Recognized for their work in putting together the story package were Parks and fellow staff writers J.D. Sumner and Terry Lewis.

The Herald also claimed first and third place for editorial writing, both for editorials that were critical of the Dougherty County Board of Education's method of selecting a school superintendent last year. "School chief choice tainted" won first place, while "Tammany Hall South thrives" took third place.

The Editorial Board in 2010 comprised Publisher Michael J. Gebhart, Editor Jim Hendricks, Managing Editor Danny Carter, Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher and Librarian/Researcher Mary Braswell. The editorials were written by Hendricks.

The Herald's coverage of the superintendent selection process, which frequently utilized the state's Sunshine Law and resulted in The Herald, WFXL and WALB suing the School Board for information in compliance with those laws, resulted in a second-place award in the Freedom of Information category.

Recognized for their work in those articles were former Herald education reporter Ethan Fowler and Hendricks.

Fletcher also won a second-place award for feature writing for his article "In the shadow of Jim Crow," which reflected on the laws that were enacted in the first half and mid-20th century to prevent black Americans from fully engaging in American society.

Sumner's local government coverage garnered him third place in the beat writing category. He also won three photography awards -- second place in features for "Snow Day," third place in sports action for "Utter heartbreak" and second place in photo illustrations for "Everything old is new again."

Sports Editor Danny Aller and staff writer Mike Phillips won third place for sports writing for their package on National League Rookie of the Year Buster Posey, a Leesburg native who helped the San Francisco Giants win the World Series.

Staff photographer Joe Bellacomo won third place in features for his photo titled "Slippin' and Slidin'."

In addition to The Herald, newspapers that competed in Class AAA were the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail (Georgia-based staff), Athens Banner-Herald, The Brunswick News, The Times (Gainesville), Marietta Daily Journal, Rome News-Tribune and The Valdosta Daily Times.