March 6, 2018
Spectator Wins Nine Awards at State Newspaper Contest
Pictured, from left to right, are Hunter Terrell, Darla Dunning, Bryce Etheridge, Julie Jernigan, Juston Lewis, Preyah James, Prince Robinson, Kelsey Dickerson, Alex Dunn, Bethany Davis, Robert Davison, and Veronica You. Not pictured: Gabe Burns, Seth Willard, and Bryce Decker.
VALDOSTA — The Spectator, Valdosta State University’s independent student newspaper, won nine awards at the Georgia College Press Association’s 2017 Better Newspaper Contest, which took place in February at the Georgia Press Institute in Athens.
“These awards demonstrate how well The Spectator serves students and bolsters VSU’s visibility,” said Dr. Pat Miller, senior adviser. “The variety of awards — writing, website, photography — argues for the strength and versatility of this staff. VSU should be proud of this accomplishment. I am.”
The Spectator earned third place for Best Campus Community Service-Sports and second place for Best Newspaper Website. The Spectator website is managed by Preyah James, multimedia editor and a biology major from Atlanta, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Fall 2018.
The staff also brought home six individual awards:
- Seth Willard, former photo editor, placed second for Best Photo Essay, Best Photograph-News, and Best Photograph-Sports. He also placed third for Best Photograph-Editorial/Feature. Willard is an astronomy major from Locust Grove, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Spring 2020.
- Gabe Burns, former editor-in-chief, won first place for Best News Article-Objective. Burns, a Valdosta, Georgia, native, earned a Bachelor of Arts in English in Spring 2017 and currently works for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Darla Dunning, managing editor, won third place for Best Feature Article. She is an English major from Valdosta who expects to graduate in May.
- Juston Lewis, sports editor, won third place for Best Sports Article. He is a mass media major from Decatur, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Fall 2019.
This marks the third consecutive year that The Spectator has earned nine awards at the Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
“I was really glad The Spectator got to take home some awards this year,” said Kelsey Dickerson, editor-in-chief. “The staff has been working very hard over the past year, especially with our transition to digital, and it was great for them to get some reaffirmation for everything they've been doing.”
While at the Georgia Press Institute, Spectator staff members networked with fellow student journalists and took part in panels and discussions led by professional journalists from across the state, including reporters from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN, and The Poynter Institute. The sessions covered various aspects of the profession, including visual storytelling, social media strategies, and journalism law.
Spectator staff led a session on the state of free speech on college campuses. Presenters were Dickerson, an English major from Moultrie, Georgia, who expects to graduate in May; Alex Dunn, campus life editor and an English major from Atlanta who expects to graduate in May; Julie Jernigan, copy editor and an English major from Waycross, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Fall 2018; and Dunning.
Lewis and fellow staff member Prince Robinson were elected to the Georgia College Press Association board during the conference. Lewis will serve as treasurer and Robinson, staff writer, will serve as a board member.
“I was actually pretty excited because it shows the confidence that my peers have in me to elect me to this position,” Lewis said. “With this position, I kind of just want to be a liaison between students and the professional journalists. I want to show that we as student journalists do good work and can put out good content.”
“I really love journalism, so this will be perfect for me to start with as a freshman,” said Robinson, a mass media major from Douglasville, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Spring 2021.
Other Spectator staff members who attended the conference were Bethany Davis, graphic designer and an art major from Thomasville, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Spring 2021; Bryce Etheridge, news editor and an English major from Lithonia, Georgia who expects to graduate in Spring 2019; Veronica You, special projects manager and an English major from Winder, Georgia, who expects to graduate in May; Robert Davison, assistant campus life editor and an English major from Quitman, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Spring 2019; and Bryce Decker, staff writer and an English major from Holiday, Florida, who expects to graduate in Spring 2021. Dr. Ted Geltner, adviser, also attended.