The award, considered the highest accolade given by the Georgia Associated Press, recognizes journalists who have defended public access to government meetings, public records and court proceedings, or who have furthered other more general issues of freedom of expression and information.
This is the third time in four years the Journal has won the award.
“This award is particularly gratifying because it reflects our newspaper’s dedication to hold public officials accountable and to provide our readers with the information they deserve to know,” said Journal Managing Editor Billy Mitchell.
This year’s winning entry consisted of four editorials and columns regarding: attempts by the Cobb County school board to keep the public and media “out of the loop” regarding its controversial “Teach for America” proposal; coverage of an extraordinary seminar conducted in Marietta last year by state Attorney General Sam Olens about the changes to the state’s Open Meeting/Open Records laws — a meeting attended by virtually every elected official in the county; and an editorial commentary about a free-speech dust-up between an outspoken local eatery/pub, Mulligan’s on Roswell Street, and a civil-rights group.
The winning entries were written by Journal editorial page Editor Joe Kirby, editorial Columnist Dick Yarbrough and late publisher Otis Brumby Jr.
The Journal had two other first place entries, both won by former staff photographer Emily Barnes, for Picture Story and Spot News. Journal Sports Editor John Bednarowski won second place in Best Sports Writing for his report on the dismissal of former Harrison High School football coach Marty Galbraith for inappropriate conduct. Former Chief Photographer Laura Moon had a second place in the Feature Photo category.
The Journal’s technical support staff of Brad Buttram and Chris Bailey won third place in the Best Website category and Kirby, Yarbrough, Assistant News Editor Jon Gillooly and Columnist Don McKee won third place in the Public Service category.