JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. — The Georgia Press Association named The Walton Tribune as the best newspaper of its class for the past year.

It was the third consecutive year for The Tribune to win the prestigious General Excellence award in the Better Newspaper Contest.

Awards were presented at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel on Friday during the GPA’s 133rd annual convention.

“I am so proud of our team to see its hard work rewarded like this,” Editor and Publisher David Clemons said.

“Of course, the awards don’t matter. What matters is, do you serve your community well? Are you helping advertisers reach customers and are you presenting information well to your readers? These awards show that we seem to be getting a little better every day.”

The Tribune has been first in General Excellence six of the past eight years in its category.

Awards for the paper’s journalism included a first-place win by Clemons for Investigative Reporting, on the city of Monroe’s separation with longtime Public Safety Director Keith Glass.

The Tribune also was recognized with the Albert and Dorothy Jenkins Award, for the best use of graphics among all weekly newspapers in the state, with Clemons’ graphics showing results after the November 2018 general election, and the paper’s editorial page won the J.C. Williams Trophy as the state’s best.

The newspaper swept the Sports Column competition, with two awards including first place for correspondent David Johnson and one for Sports Editor Brett Fowler.

Three magazines produced during the year also swept the Special Issues category: The Bicentennial Edition, a 204-page book about the history of Walton County on the county’s 200th birthday, won first-place honors. The annual Gridiron Guide football preview was second and Visions 2018, the annual progress edition, was third.

In the advertising competition, The Tribune earned 13 first-place awards. Clients honored for first-place work include Liberty First Bank, Spencer’s Jewelers, John’s Supermarket, Park Place Nursing & Rehab Facility, Grand Furniture, Lee’s Collision Center, Monroe Downtown, Stacy McCullers and Malcom & Malcom Realty Professionals and Tim Stewart Funeral Home.

There were 622 awards presented in 46 categories to 71 newspapers. Judging was done by members of the South Carolina Press Association in February and early March. A total of 80 newspapers entered at least one category in this year’s contest.

The Valdosta Daily Times won the Freedom of Information Award for doing the most during 2018 to uphold the principles of the First Amendment and to protect the public’s right to know. The Daily Times was honored for its continuing efforts throughout the year to educate the public and public officials about Georgia’s sunshine laws.

Two young journalists were honored as winners of GPA’s Emerging Journalist Awards: Isabel Hughes of the Gwinnett Daily Post and Sydney Taylor of the News Observer of Blue Ridge.

The photograph chosen as the Photo of the Year was taken by Matt Aiken of the Dahlonega Nugget. It depicts the efforts of Lumpkin County firefighters to battle a blaze at a local hardware store. Water sprayed on the fire as the sun shone down, creating a rainbow in the image.

General Excellence Awards are based on overall evaluation of the newspaper. Points toward General Excellence are earned based on awards in contest categories and in Georgia Press Association’s advertising contest.

General Excellence winners were the Savannah Morning News (Division A), the Valdosta Daily Times (Division B), the LaGrange Daily News (Division C), The Walton Tribune (Division D), the Morgan County Citizen (Division E), the Champion of Decatur (Division F) and Smoke Signals of Big Canoe (Division G).

The newspaper won the following awards:


  • Albert and Dorothy Jenkins Award (Best Use of Graphics and Illustration): First place, all weekly newspapers, Clemons
  • J.C. Williams Trophy (Editorial Page): The Tribune, first place
  • Breaking News: Andrew Kenneson, second place
  • H.H. Dean Trophy (Editorial Writing): Clemons, third place
  • Education Writing: Stephen Milligan, third place
  • Feature Writing: Kenneson, second place
  • Headline Writing: Clemons, first place
  • Investigative Reporting: Clemons, first place
  • Hal M. Stanley Trophy (Layout and Design): The Tribune, first place
  • Trox Bankston Trophy (Local News Coverage): The Tribune, second place
  • Religion Writing: Kenneson, first place; Milligan, third place
  • Otis A. Brumby Trophy (Serious Column): Kenneson, first place; Mililgan, second place
  • Special Issues: The Tribune, first, second and third place
  • Sports Column: Johnson, first place and third place; Fowler, second place
  • Sports Coverage: Clemons, second place; Fowler, third place
  • Sports Feature Photograph: Fowler, first place
  • Sports Feature Story: Fowler, first place
  • Sports Photograph: Fowler, second and third place
  • Sports Section or Pages: The Tribune, second place
  • Spot News Photo: Clemons, first place


  • Spot Color Ad: Tire Depot, second place
  • Advertising Campaign: Liberty First Bank, first place; Spencer’s Jewelers, second place; Family Tree Garden Center, third place
  • Apparel, Jewelry and Accessories: Spencer’s Jewelers, first place and second place; Southern Belle Boutique, third place; Broad Street Boots, third place
  • Classified Section: The Tribune, second place
  • Food: John’s Supermarket, first and third place; IHOP, second place
  • Health Care: Park Place Nursing & Rehab Facility, first place; Walton Family Medicine, second place; Athens Orthopedic Clinic, third place
  • Home Furnishings: Grand Furniture, first place; Peters & Foster Furniture and Appliances, second place
  • Miscellaneous: Social Circle Ace Home Center, second place
  • Motor Vehicle: Lee’s Collision Center, first place
  • Newspaper Promotion (Out of Print): The Tribune, first and second place
  • Nontraditional: The Tribune, first and second place
  • Online Banner or Tile Ad: Monroe Downtown Concert Series, first place; Walton EMC Walton County BBQ Festival, second place
  • Real Estate: Stacy McCullers/Malcom & Malcom Realty Professionals, first place; Carolyn Carnes & Co./Keller Williams, second place; Conner Smith Realty, third place
  • Service – Institutional, Tim Stewart Funeral Home, first place; Jim Brown and Charlie Brown/Edward Jones, second place; Walmart Distribution Center 6055 and Transportation Private Fleet, third place
  • Signature Place: Georgia Bulldogs College Football Playoff National Championship Game, second place
  • Small Page Ad: Spencer’s Jewelers, first place; McDaniel-Tichenor House, second place; Rep. Bruce Williamson, third place
  • Special Section: Year in Review, first place; Memorial Day, second place; Voters’ Guide, third place

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