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Members of the Spectator staff watch Jim Zachary, facilitator of the annual Georgia College Press Association Awards, announce winners. GCPA was held virtually this year to accommodate for COVID-19.

The Spectator receives multiple awards at annual state journalism conference

The Spectator won eight awards, including two first-place awards, at the Georgia College Press Association (GCPA) Better Newspaper contest held virtually on Feb. 19.

The Spectator competes against 19 other newspapers including the largest colleges in the state: UGA, Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia State University. Notably, the Spectator won an award in all coverage categories.

The staff receive first place for the “Best Editorial,” and an individual first place award for “Best Sports Story” written by Prince Robinson Junior.

Editor in Chief Lenah Allen, a senior, says the awards symbolize the Spectator’s hard work that impacts the campus community and encourages the staff to keep doing what they are doing as a publication.

“The award that stuck out to me the most was the best editorial series,” Allen said. “The purpose of our editorials is to call forth issues not just on campus but worldwide. Editorials allow us as a staff to express our opinion and voice a way to fix the issue. Winning that award shows us as a staff that we have what it takes to make an impact with just our words and opinions.”

According to Allen, the GCPA is important because it highlights and celebrates college newspapers achievements around the state.

“Being able to get recognized for our hard work is very humbling and shows us as a staff that we are achieving more than just our purpose as an organization,” Allen said. “We are also accomplishing work that has leveled up to the standards of top newsrooms around the world.”

The staff placed second for “Best Community Service” in sports, features and news, and placed third for “Best Community Service” in editorial. The staff also placed third for the “Improvement Award.”

Managing and News Editor Kayla Pool, a junior, says she feels great knowing the Spectator did a good job at informing the VSU campus about general news.

“Helping students, faculty and staff stay informed with updates on and off campus is what is important to me,” Pool said. “My team and I have worked endlessly to ensure that students voices are taken into consideration and always heard, so that award definitely confirms that we’re meeting our end of the bargain.”

Another individual third place award was given to Malia Thomas, the previous Berliner and Entertainment Editor who graduated in spring 2020, for “Best Photo Essay.”

Thomas said getting this award is like the GCPA telling her she made an impact and that she created something that matters.

“I really went into overdrive my final semester because I wanted people to get a full picture of just how disastrous the coronavirus had been in Valdosta, and I thought the best medium for that was a photo essay,” Thomas said. “I also wanted to embark on a project worth remembering and leave a good legacy at the Spectator.”

Dr. Ted Geltner, adviser for the Spectator and professor of English, says the Spectator celebrated by watching the virtual awards and cheered together when the staff’s name was called by Jim Zachary, managing editor of the Valdosta Daily Times.

“I’m tremendously proud of our staff,” Dr. Geltner said. “They worked so hard, and they really preform a tremendous service for VSU, so to see them honored this way is very gratifying.”

According to Dr. Geltner, the great thing about this year’s awards was the staff won more awards than they have in a long time.

“We were honored in editorial, news, sports and features,” Dr. Geltner said. “I think that just shows that the staff across the board is really doing a great job.”

In addition to Allen, Pool, and Dr. Geltner, the Spectator staff includes Copy Editor Isabella Schneider, Sports Editor Zach Edmondson, Digital Content and Social Media Editor Gracie Lucas, Berliner and Entertainment Editor Torrence Weaver, Web Editor Camille Grube-Hall, Campus Life Editor Kilie Huckleby, Photo Editor Bailey Storey, Graphic Design Editor Sarahi Montero, Assistant Digital Content and Social Media Editor Gwenivere Friedman and Assistant Copy Editor Jonnie Brewer.

Written by Jonnie Brewer, Assistant Copy editor. Photo courtesy of Lenah Allen, Editor-in-Chief.

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