February 15, 2010
10-030

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

Spectator Captures six GCPA Awards

VALDOSTA -- The Spectator, Valdosta State University's student newspaper, captured six awards in the annual Georgia College Press Association's (GCPA) Better Newspaper Contest, senior 4-year division. Honors were presented at a banquet held Feb. 6 in Athens.

Managing Editor Danielle Everson placed first in Best News Article Based on Investigative Reporting and Sports Editor Michael Wilson placed third for Best Sports Story. The publication also won several general awards, including second place for General Photography Excellence, General Advertising and Best Campus Community Service - Editorial Excellence, and third place for Best Community Service - Features.

These six awards bring The Spectator to a total 22 GCPA accolades in the past three years. The independent student paper captured 10 awards and one honorable mention in the 2009 GCPA Better newspaper Contest -- the most ever received by a single publication. Editor-in-Chief Lee Johnson attributes recent success to the staff's hard work and the newspaper's overall emphasis on quality.

"I am really proud of our newspaper staff and it feels good to know that our hard work is noticed by the Georgia newspaper community," said Johnson, who took the reins from former Editor Karah-Leigh Hancock in fall 2009. "The Spectator will only continue to get better and will continue to be competitive with, if not surpass, bigger schools in the state."

Johnson said The Spectator, which publishes each Thursday during spring and fall semesters, has been most focused on improving its Web presence over the past several years. In addition to online versions of printed stories, the site, www.vsuspectator.com, offers multimedia elements, such as videos and photo slide shows, interactive games, staff blogs and Web Exclusives. The Fire Pit -- an interactive section featuring photos, recipes and student-submitted content -- will go live soon.

The student news portal recently launched a mobile edition of the paper, making it even easier for students to access current events anytime, anywhere.

"I was excited when we made the transition because more and more people are turning to smart phones for information, and we needed to be a part of that movement," Johnson said, adding the Web options make it possible for reporters to continually break news -- not just on Thursdays. "One of our primary goals is to improve online readership, so we are constantly looking for ways to drive readers to the Web."

E-mail spec@valdosta.edu for more information about The Spectator and its online options. More information about GCPA is available online at http://www.gapress.org/gcpa.html .