February 22, 2017

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Dr. Pat Miller, VSU Department of English Professor and Journalism Advisor

Spectator Wins at Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest

Pictured, from left to right, are (front row) Kyle Dawson, sports editor; Gabe Burns, editor-in-chief; Seth Willard, photo editor; (second row) Michaela Leung, entertainment editor; Kelsey Dickerson, features editor; Julia Rodriquez, managing editor; (third row) Veronica You, circulation manager; Juston Lewis, assistant sports editor; (fourth row) Kahlil Slader, graphic designer; Tyra Mills, social media editor.

VALDOSTA — The Spectator, Valdosta State University’s independent student newspaper, earned nine awards at the Georgia College Press Association’s 2016 Better Newspaper Contest. 

“We’re clearly among the best college news organizations in the state,” said Dr. Pat Miller, senior adviser. “We tied with Georgia Tech and Mercer for number of awards. That’s pretty good company.”

Only Georgia State University and the University of Georgia won more, she added.

The Spectator earned first place for Best Campus Community Service-Editorial and third place finishes for General Advertising Excellence and Best Newspaper Website.

The staff also brought home six individual awards. Mayah Cantave, former managing editor, placed first and Ryan Sulski, reporter, placed second for Best News Article (Objective Reporting). Third place finishes went to Gabe Burns, editor-in-chief, for Best Feature Story; Juston Lewis, assistant sports editor, for Best Sports Story; and Darien Harris, multimedia editor, for Best Photograph-News. The editorial board placed third for Best Editorial/Editorial Series.

“That we won awards in a plethora of categories attests to the strength of this staff,” Miller said.  “We often play David to Goliaths, but this staff is concerned about much more than awards. These journalists are determined to make sure The Spectator does what it is supposed to do — to act as the uncensored voice for VSU students.”

This marks the second consecutive year that The Spectator has earned nine awards at the Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

Ten students, as well as Dr. Ted Geltner and Cindy Montgomery, advisers, attended the Feb. 10-11 Georgia College Press Association meeting, hosted by Mercer University. VSU joined approximately 20 other Georgia colleges and universities to celebrate journalistic excellence and to participate in sessions designed to sharpen students’ skills.

Three VSU staffers — Burns, Kyle Dawson and Veronica You — presented a session on how to use digital reporting skills to build beats. Dawson is the current Spectator sports editor; You is the circulation manager.

Julia Rodriquez, managing editor, was elected president of the Georgia College Press Association. Lewis and Kelsey Dickerson, features editor, were elected to the board of directors.

“I couldn't be more proud of what this staff has accomplished, and each one of them makes me a better editor-in-chief,” Burns said. “The respect our in-state peers showed us speaks volumes about our program and the advisers' reputations. This is the strongest group we've had at VSU, and all of our journalists are prepared to change others' lives for the better."

Other students attending were Kahlil Slader, graphic artist; Seth Willard, photo editor; Tyra Mills, social media editor; and Michaela Leung, entertainment editor.

Contact Dr. Pat Miller at pmiller@valdosta.edu or Dr. Ted Geltner at tageltner@valdosta.edu for more information. 

On the Web: