LDN wins 33 GPA awards, named top newspaper in its classification

Published 10:00 pm Friday, May 31, 2019

The LaGrange Daily News has been recognized as the top newspaper in the state of Georgia in its classification.

On Friday it was announced that the LDN placed first in general excellence in the 2019 Georgia Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest. The LDN competes in division C, which is reserved for daily newspapers with a circulation of less than 6,000. The general excellence category is considered the top award in the annual GPA contest and the winner is determined by combining the results of award categories focused on design, writing quality, photography and advertising.

The newspaper won a total of 33 awards, 20 by the editorial staff and 13 by the advertising staff. The 20 in the editorial awards were nearly as many as the paper had won from 2015-2018 combined (21). The LDN had not won first in general excellence since 2008.

“Your newspaper, our community’s newspaper, has been recognized by an impartial, qualified third-party as the preeminent newspaper in our classification across the state,” said Publisher Baker Ellis. “That feat does not come easy, and is a testament to our staff for the hard and consistent work they put in. There is quality journalism being produced in our community on a daily basis once again. Internally, we feel confident in the product we create, and it is gratifying to have that confidence validated by an outside source.”

The awards were announced Friday evening at the Georgia Press Association’s 133rd annual convention at the Jekyll Island Ocean Club. There were 622 awards presented in 46 categories to 71 newspapers. The South Carolina Press Association judged the contest, and a total of 80 newspapers entered at least one category in this year’s contest.

The LDN editorial staff won first place awards in headline writing, layout and design, special issues/special sections, spot news photograph, feature writing, education writing, investigation reporting and community service. The LDN advertising staff won first place in award categories centered on food and motor vehicle advertising, and also won first place for classified section/page advertising.

Here’s a list of all of the LDN’s winning entries:

  • Daniel Evans and Alicia B. Hill won first place in headline writing, which was compiled of three entries from throughout the year. The winning headlines were “It’s a Wynne, Wynne,” for a story about Det. Ley Wynne and Corp. Norm Wynne from the LaGrange Police Department (link); “Seventh Heaven” for a story on seven nurses from LaGrange Internal Medicine who were pregnant at the same time (link); and “Priority Mail, Community” for a story on LaGrange postmaster Sandy Strozier (link).
  • First place for layout and design, which judges design and makeup, choice of interfaces and headline usage. Judge’s comments said: “This newspaper’s design stands out from the pack. With clean design, dominate photo display and great spacing, The LaGrange Daily News organizes its news so readers can easily follow. Well done!”
  • First place for its “Progress” edition in the special sections competition, which focused on development in LaGrange and Troup County. The LDN also finished second in this category for its Twenty Under Forty special edition.
  • Daniel Evans won first place for a spot news photo for a story titled “Fire causes extensive damage to home.” The story (link) was about an April fire on Hines Road. In the picture, a neighbor, who called in the fire, consoles a homeowner, who was holding family pictures salvaged from the fire.
  • Daniel Evans won first place in feature writing for a trio of stories. The entry included stories titled “Seventh Heaven,” a feature on seven nurses from LaGrange Internal Medicine who were pregnant at the same time (link); “Coming Together,” the story of a homeless man who was hit by a train in Hogansville (link); and “Aerial View,” a story on Guy Longshore’s rare photos from World War II (link).
  • Daniel Evans won first place for education writing for three stories on schools in Troup County. The winning entry included the following stories: “This is not a negotiation,” an in-depth investigation into Cole Pugh’s resignation from the Troup County School System (link); “Troup BOE approves increased cost for gyms,” which focused on a second increase in the expected cost of athletic facilities at Troup High School and LaGrange High School (link); and “NAACP asks for investigation into Troup schools,” a story on alleged misconduct brought forth from the local chapter of the NAACP (link).
  • Daniel Evans won first place in investigative reporting and swept the category completely, also taking home the second and third place awards. The winning story was titled “Coming Together,” which was a deep look at a homeless man’s final hours, which were spent in Hogansville (link). Second place for “This is not a negotiation,” an investigation into Pugh’s resignation as superintendent of the Troup County School System (link). Third place was for “I made a mistake,” a story on Randy Robertson’s violation of conduct while working for the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office. Robertson was elected as a state senator in 2018 (link).
  • Daniel Evans won first place in community service for “This is not a negotiation,” the story on Pugh’s resignation as superintendent (link). Judges’ comments on the story said: “This was a great example of good journalism representing an attempt to get answers for the local residents. The amount of work The LaGrange Daily News went through to get the answers is obvious. Good work.”
  • The newspaper won second place in local news coverage, which considers the variety and balance of news coverage and the excellence of news-writing style, in combination with the quality and use of photography in news presentation.
  • Daniel Evans won second place for best news photograph for a photo depicting actors from The Walking Dead during filming in Hogansville (link).
  • Kevin Eckleberry won second place for best sports coverage for three stories. The entry included the following stories: “Surging at State,” a feature on the Troup County High School wrestling team; “They’re the Best,” a story on LaGrange College winning the USA South baseball championship; and “Emotional win for Cavs,” a story on the Callaway High School football team’s win over Spencer. Eckleberry also placed third in this category. The stories for the third-place entry were “Cavs are moving on,” “Surging into the season,” and “There’s no surrender.”
  • Kevin Eckleberry and Daniel Evans won second place for “multimedia journalism” for the Pigskin Preview Facebook contest, which allowed the community to vote on the students who would represent the cover of the paper’s annual high school football magazine.
  • The LDN won third place for “Page One,” which judged appearance, quality and newsworthiness.
  • Gabrielle Jansen won third place for “Enterprise Story,” which included three stories on the LaGrange Animal Shelter and Puppy Pipeline. The stories were titled “Looking for a home (link),” “Making a difference (link)” and “Dog found tied to satellite dish gets new home (link).”
  • Kevin Eckleberry placed third in “Sports Column.” The entry included the following three stories: “Spring Dreaming,” “Legend headed to hall” and “Cavaliers, Tigers make title run.”

The LDN advertising staff’s winning entries were in the following categories:

  • First place for best food advertisement for Good ‘Ole Country Buffet advertising.
  • First place for best motor vehicle advertising for West Georgia Boat advertising.
  • First place in best classifieds section/page.
  • Second place for service/institution advertising for an Ace Air advertisement.
  • Second place in best newspaper promotion out of print for the LDN’s media kit flyer.
  • Second place in real estate for a Go Realty advertisement.
  • Second place for apparel, jewelry and accessories for an Edelsons advertisement.
  • Second place for miscellaneous advertising for CMB Rentals.
  • Second place for full-color advertising for West Georgia Boat.
  • Second place for small page advertising featuring Vernon Woods.
  • Third place for online advertising or tile ad for America’s Mattress.
  • Third place for advertising campaign for real estate corner.
  • Third place for newspaper promotion for “Advertise your business here.”

In addition to the GPA awards, Evans and Eckleberry are also finalists for awards in the Georgia Associated Press Media Editors Awards. Evans is a finalist for best non-deadline reporting for “This is not a Negotiation” and Eckleberry is a finalist in best sports feature photo for “They’re the Best.”