The Spectator staff won ten awards, including one first place award, at this year’s Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest. The staff won five group awards while four individual staff members brought in five more.
The Spectator competes against 19 other Georgia colleges in the contest, including UGA, Georgia State, Emory and SCAD. This year, the Spectator brought home awards from 10 of the 24 categories.
“I am so proud of the Spectator staff for the hard work, dedication and talent they have put into getting our content out this year,” Editor-in-Chief TJ Weaver said. “We have all worked tirelessly to get the job done, and all of that work has paid off in the end.”
The staff placed second in GCPA’s “Improvement Award.” They placed third as a group in four other award categories: “Best Sports Coverage,” “Best Campus Community Service – News,” “Best Campus Community Service – Editorial” and “General Photo Excellence.”
“I’m truly proud,” Jonnie Brewer, managing editor, said. “Journalism is too often looked over. People don’t realize that journalists are the reason we know what is going on in the world. As citizens of the world, we seek news organizations to simplify complicated things for us. A lot goes into that.”
Payton Fletcher, the Spectator’s previous news editor, placed first place in “Best Editorial” for his story “New tenure policy may ruin freedom of education.” Fletcher also won the third place award for “Best News Photograph.”
Sports editor Austin Bruce placed second in “Best Feature Story” for his story “Zach Blankenship triumphs through COVID-19.”
“When I submitted my feature for the contest, I knew I had a shot of winning an award,” he said. “Coming in second for best feature is something that really boosted my confidence as a writer.
Meanwhile, Kilie Huckleby, campus life editor, placed second in “Best Editorial or Feature Photo.”
“I 100% did not expect this,” she said. “The photo editor put it in without me knowing about it, and I got second place, beating the Red and Black [UGA’s student-led newspaper]. It may be second place, but I still placed and that’s something to be proud of.”
Entertainment editor Madison Gruber placed third in “Best Review” for her story “Betty’s Diner offers breathtaking breakfast.”
“This is my first time competing in the GCPA competition and I feel like my stories were judged fairly,” she said. “I can’t wait to compete again next year and bring home more awards for the Spectator.”
Staff members believe the awards represent the dedication they have working for the Spectator.
“It makes me feel proud of our staff because it is clear we make an impact from what we do,” Newsletter editor Isabella Schneider said. “All of us must work together to produce quality content for our readers.”
Staff members also feel the Spectator’s ten awards show how important journalism is, especially on college campuses.
“I think it not only shows off the dedication at the Spectator, but it shows that we care about the things that should be cared about,” Brewer said. “Journalism is crucial to our democracy, and it’s promising to witness and be a part of a student-led organization that recognizes and practices our first amendment right.”
GCPA usually holds a banquet and ceremony in Athens, Georgia to deliver the awards; however, this year, the ceremony was canceled due to low registration.
In response to this, the Spectator held their own awards ceremony with lunch at Chili’s on April 29. Awards were presented by Spectator adviser Ted Geltner.
“I’m extremely proud of the Spectator staff,” he said. “They’re devoted to providing the VSU community with accurate and thorough news coverage. To earn this many statewide honors while competing with much larger universities is a testament to their skill and determination.”
Written by Bailey Storey, Photo Editor. Photo courtesy of Ted Geltner, Spectator Adviser.