Springs Publishing, parent company of Reporter Newspapers, Atlanta Intown, and Atlanta Senior Life, collected 17 awards – including six first-place honors – in the Georgia Press Association’s 2020 Better Newspaper Contest. 

First place awards were for design, columnists, business writing, online project, investigations, and features. 

The awards were announced July 30 at the Jekyll Island Club and Hotel during the GPA’s 134th annual convention. 

A total of 49 newspapers entered the contest. Competitors were divided by size into seven divisions so they would be judged against similarly sized publications. Springs’ publications competed in the division for the largest weekly newspapers, those with a circulation greater than 15,000, and other publications.

“Being recognized by your peers is always rewarding and I’m incredibly proud of the work the team did, especially during such a challenging year,” said Steve Levene, founder and former owner of Springs Publishing. Levene sold Springs Publishing in December, 2020.  

New owner, Keith Pepper, continued, “These awards are a confirmation of what we’ve known for a long time – that consistent, responsible journalism is a bedrock of a functioning society and I’m happy that our team is getting the recognition they deserve.”

News writing and digital awards

Springs Publishing was recognized for second place in the General Excellence category, which includes results of both the editorial and advertising contests.

Springs’ publications won top awards in its division for both coverage and for presentation of the news. Reporter Newspapers also placed second among weekly newspapers for Best Newspaper Website and second among all newspapers for Best Online News Project for coverage of local Black Lives Matter marches in the summer of 2020. 

The Reporter Newspapers website was relaunched in February on the Newspack platform, which is a local news initiative from WordPress.

Several individual journalists were recognized with honors, including John Ruch, Dyana Bagby, and Hannah Greco, who took both first and second place honors for investigative reporting for a pair of packages of articles on construction of I-285 toll lanes and city tax breaks. 

Ruch won another first-place prize for his business writing, an award he also won with Reporter Newspapers in 2019, 2018, and 2017. 

A package of articles on different subjects by Judith Shonback, Erin Schilling and Ruch took first place in the features category. Shonback’s honor is posthumous as she was killed in an auto accident on August 2, 2020.

Columnist recognition

Robin Conte Isaf, writer of the Robin’s Nest column, won first place in the Serious Column category. Atlanta Intown columnist Tim Sullivan won third place for Humorous Column. Joe Earle was recognized for his Around Town column with a third place award. 

Design & Photography awards

Rico Figliolini, creative director for Springs Publishing, won both first and second place awards in the Reporter’s division for the Page One design of two issues of the newspaper. Springs also won the first-place award in its division for Layout and Design.

Other awards to Springs writers and publications:

  • News photo, third place, Phil Mosier, Reporter Newspapers.
  • Spot news photo, second place, Phil Mosier, Reporter Newspapers.
  • Local news coverage, second and third place, Reporter Newspapers.

A complete list of winners is available here.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.