Citizen gets 13 AP awards in contest

From left, Erin Evans, Michelle Floyd and Crystal Tatum

From left, Erin Evans, Michelle Floyd and Crystal Tatum

CONYERS -- The Newton Citizen and Rockdale Citizen newspapers received a combined 13 awards in the Georgia Associated Press Association newspaper contest. The awards are given annually to recognize outstanding journalism over the previous year.

The Rockdale Citizen won seven awards in the class AA category for newspapers with a circulation of 10,000 to 15,000, and the Newton Citizen won six awards in the class A category for newspapers with a circulation of less than 10,000.

The awards were presented Saturday in Macon during the annual GAPA luncheon.

"It is gratifying to have our staff members recognized by the industry for their outstanding work," said publisher Alice Queen. "Our photographer, reporters and editors work hard to produce the highest quality local journalism. These award-winning entries are merely a reflection of the work they do day in and day out to provide our readers with information they want and need about their communities."

Citizen Photographer Erin Evans came away with three awards for the Newton Citizen and three for Rockdale. She received third place in sports action photo for "Rams' run ends," third place in photo illustration for "Ditching distractions" and third place for portfolio, a sampling of work collected throughout the year. In Rockdale, she received second place for the feature photo "Time of their lives," second place for sports action photo "Season-capper" and third place for picture story, "Honoring the fallen: Community joins to remember slain officer."

Newton staff reporter Crystal Tatum won second place in feature writing for "Safe at home: Men return to county after facing horrors in Haiti." Tatum's story is about the missionary trip Roger Hall and Butch Lee made to Haiti during the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that hit impoverished country.

Staff Reporter Michelle Floyd garnered a second- place award in beat reporting for her coverage of Newton County schools.

Queen received a second-place award in editorial writing for the editorial, "Retreat not respectful to economy."

The Rockdale Citizen won first place in the Freedom of Information category, "Cutting red tape," by Aimee Jones. The story explores the challenges of citizens seeking information under Georgia's Open Records Act and of the government officials charged with meeting those requests.

Floyd also garnered a first-place award for beat reporting for her coverage of Rockdale County schools.

"It's been a rough year for education in Georgia -- school leaders are always dealing with cuts and worried about money," Floyd said. "With my articles, I try to get the important information to the community in a way they can understand it. I also try to balance it with features about the unique programs and people in each school."

Rockdale Citizen Sports Writer Kurt Aschermann Jr. won second place in sports writing for his story, "The right choice: Heritage's Abrahamsen hopes hard work pays off in title." The story focuses on the determination of Heritage High School wrestler Billy Abrahamsen, who made it to the state wrestling finals two years after losing his spot on the varsity team as a freshman.