This year’s contest was judged by members of the Texas Press Association. When the final tallies were made The Cairo Messenger tied for being the third best newspaper in the state.
The General Excellence award goes to the newspapers that score the most points in the BNC and annual Advertising Contests. The first place winner in General Excellence was The Clayton Tribune. Coming in second was The White County News of Cleveland. The Messenger and The Toccoa Record tied for third place.
“We are very excited to see the hard work of our staff rewarded. The judges confirmed that our staff produces one of the very best community newspapers in this state. I appreciate each and every staff member and stringer involved,” Editor and Publisher Randolph H. Wind said.
Awards to the newspaper were presented Friday night on Jekyll Island during the 124th GPA convention. Representing the paper at the banquet were Editor Wind, Advertising Director and Staff Writer Mesha C. Wind and Staff Writer Darrell Mudra.
In addition to General Excellence honors, the newspaper won three first place awards. The Messenger competes in Division F, which is made up of newspapers in the state with circulations ranging from 5,000 to 14,999.
Staff Writer Darrell Mudra was award first place by the Texas judges for his religion coverage.
Messenger staffer Jennifer Searan won a first place award for a feature photograph she made of the annual Eastside Elementary School “Snow Day.”
Photographer Linda Drew Johnson also won a first place award for a sports photograph she took at a Cairo High School soccer game.
The Messenger won a total of two second place awards and four third place honors in various categories.
Messenger Designer Brynn Knight won second place in the information graphics category for her page designs including the feature on “Uncle Dee,” “The Wet Down,” and “Snow Day.”
Editor Wind won second place for his editorial writing, a third place for headline writing, and for his front page layout and design.
Mudra picked up a third place award for a feature photo, and he and The Messenger staff were also awarded a third place award for religion coverage.
The Cairo Messenger was also honored earlier this year in the GPA’s Advertising Contest. The newspaper won five first place awards in ad design and four second place honors.
“I must say that 2009 will go down as one of the best. Although we work hard each and every week to produce a quality newspaper, it is rewarding to have our work recognized as being among the best,” Editor Wind said.
He added, “It takes a team effort and everyone on our staff are class folks. I appreciate them all and thank them for their hard work.”
Also at the annual GPA convention it was announced that incoming GPA President Patrick Yost of The Morgan County Citizen in Madison has reappointed Mesha Wind to a second three-year term on the association’s board of directors.
Messenger columnist Len Robbins of The Clinch County News in Homerville was elected vice president of the GPA and Don Bailey of The Augusta Chronicle was tapped as treasurer.