T-R sports editor receives GPA award

Published 10:00 am Monday, June 12, 2017

JEKYLL ISLAND — The Georgia Press Association honored the winners of the 2017 Freedom of Information Award and the 2017 Better Newspaper Contest last weekend at the Jekyll Island Club during the group’s 131st annual convention.
The Americus Times-Recorder’s Michael Murray received an award in this year’s competition.
Murray, sports editor, took a second-place award in Division E for Sports Column. Murray’s submitted columns, from a series titled, “From the Archives,” explored the Americus and Sumter County area’s rich history of sporting excellence. The specific columns that were submitted to the competition celebrated the Americus High School Lady Panthers basketball team’s 1966 championship-winning season as well as the Southland Raider football team’s 1986 season which culminated in a championship win.
Murray, an Americus native, came to the Times-Recorder in fall of 2014. He is a 2004 graduate of the University of Georgia and holds a bachelor of fine arts from the Lamar Dodd School of Fine Arts.
Asked about the award, Murray said, “It’s pretty exciting to get this recognition. I’m really glad that people have enjoyed these columns.”
Beth Alston, Times-Recorder editor and publisher, said, “While we always strive for excellence, it is especially rewarding to receive recognition from the Georgia Press Association, because its members are  our esteemed colleagues in community journalism.”
The Valdosta Daily Times won the prestigious Freedom of Information Award for doing the most during 2016 to uphold the principles of the First Amendment and to protect the public’s right to know. The Daily Times was honored specifically for its work getting its local hospital authority to comply with Georgia’s Open Meetings Act, even in the face of the hospital pulling its advertising and canceling subscriptions for its patients — a financial loss of more than $80,000 in a year.
Despite the hospital’s actions, The Daily Times stood strong, continuing to write stories and editorials about the authority’s improperly held closed meetings, insufficient meeting minutes and failures to post accurate meeting times. Because of the attention brought by The Daily Times, Georgia’s attorney general fined the hospital authority and ordered board members to undergo open government training.
The Americus Times-Recorder has a long history of recognition from the Georgia Press Association and from the Associated Press of Georgia.