The Columbia County News-Times was named Georgia's top community newspaper in its class for the third year in a row in the annual Better Newspaper Awards competition by the Georgia Press Association.
In a ceremony held on Friday at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort and Spa in Savannah, The News-Times received the first-place award for General Excellence - the program's highest honor - for a category that includes all nondaily newspapers published more than once per week.
"It is always an honor to be recognized by our peers in journalism," said Barry Paschal, the publisher of The News-Times. "It's especially gratifying to know that for the past three years in a row, judges from other states' media organizations all independently have come to the conclusion that The News-Times is one of Georgia's best community newspapers."
In addition to the top award, The News-Times received a first-place award for its Web site, www.newstimesonline.com.
Photographer Jim Blaylock brought in the most individual awards, including first-place prize for photo illustration for his "Super Nine" layout in The News-Times' 2005 High School Football Preview section.
Blaylock also won second place for news photograph and third-place awards for sports photo, sports feature photo and feature photo.
Other first-place awards went to cartoonist Jon Tanner, who won the new Editorial Cartoon category for all nondaily papers for the second year in a row, and former sports writer Jonathan Heeter for sports writing.
The News-Times received second-place staff awards for lifestyle coverage, editorial writing, religion coverage and education coverage, and third-place staff awards for layout and design, local news coverage and investigative reporting.
Other third-place awards went to staff writer Valerie Rowell for her spot news photo of the aftermath of a vehicle collision, and to news editor Preston Sparks for hard-news writing for his role in the newspaper's poverty series and a story about animal cruelty.
Jim Blaylock won 1st place for photo illustration.
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