Press Association honors Advocate for FOI, General Excellence

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2005

Staff Report

The Greenville Advocate, during the Alabama Press Association's Summer Convention held last weekend in Orange Beach, was presented with 16 awards for the 2005 Better Newspaper Contest.

Seventy-two newspapers submitted 3,038 entries in the annual contest and were judged by the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association.

Among the awards presented was the highly coveted General Excellence Award. With more than 200 entries in the contest by over 50 state newspapers, only 12 received the General Excellence Award, which is awarded in three places – first, second and third.

The contest is divided into four divisions, based on a paper's circulation. The Advocate falls under Division C and placed third.

Jay Thomas, managing editor, described how it felt to hear the Advocate called out for the General Excellence Award.

"You realize you are being honored by your peers and that makes all the hard work, long hours and thousands of stories, pictures, meetings and such worth it all," he said.

"It was a great deal of pride in our team for their work and dedication to the readers on getting the award. It validates what we are trying to do each day."

The Advocate won a total of six first place awards including some of the biggest categories.

One category all newspapers would like to win is the First Amendment Award.

Thomas' story about the APA push to update the Alabama Open Meetings Law won first in the C-Division with the judges commenting that the story clearly explained why the law was important and the work to change it.

The Advocate also won first place for Best In-Depth News Coverage for stories about the approach of Hurricane Ivan and the destruction it left and the work to recover.

"I'm extremely proud of our team's work that garnered this award," Thomas said.

"In the days leading up to the hurricane and the days and weeks that followed, it was a total team effort.

We had advertising representatives out taking photos along with the reporters, and those long hours and hard work were worth it.

And the judges noted it."

Advocate Publisher Dennis Palmer also won two individual awards for his photography skills.

He won first place for Best Spot News Photo for an aerial shot taken the day after Ivan ripped through the county.

Another judge's favorite of Palmer's was his shot of Gene Hardin's reflection in the marble of the World War II monument's dedication.

The Advocate also placed first for Best Sports Page for the work of Adam Prestridge and Griffin Pritchard, former sports editors.

Another first place sports award went for Prestridge's series, "Before they were coaches."

The Advocate placed second for Best Lifestyles Page, and the judges said the newspaper's features were diverse and showed a strong range of topics.