Student journalists at The Oglethorpe Echo are finalists for the 2021-22 Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) Awards.
The paper was notified that its journalists were finalists in two categories: the Game-Changer Award/Small Division and the Insight Award for Visual Journalism.
In addition to this recognition for visual journalism, The Oglethorpe Echo has also been nominated as a top contender in the Media Award category by the Georgia Health Care Association and Georgia Society of Activity Professionals. The nomination is based on a series of photos of residents at Quiet Oaks retirement facility taken by Julia Walkup.
Both the photos represented in the Insight Award for Visual Journalism and the photos at Quiet Oaks were published in The Oglethorpe Echo as part of the Woodall Weekend Workshop, a program where advanced photojournalism students cover a specific county in Georgia each spring and report on stories vital to that area. The workshop took place in Oglethorpe County in April 2022.
“It is gratifying for the students’ work to be recognized when we haven’t even completed a calendar year yet,” said Amanda Bright, academic professional and assistant editor for The Oglethorpe Echo. “To have our name being thrown around with so many other amazing nonprofits is great exposure for our students,” Bright added of the INN awards.
Bright said that the INN organization includes nearly 400 nonprofit news organizations including several large publications including ProPublica, Texas Tribune and Canopy Atlanta making it gratifying to be in such good company.
“We just joined a few months ago and it’s a very competitive application just to join,” Bright continued. “INN has a lot of requirements about what you need to be a nonprofit and transparent and have journalistic ethics.”
The Game-Changer Award is presented to an organization that produced an innovative idea or practice that led to success in revenue, audience growth or sustainable financial support of news. Bright explained that since the first issue of The Oglethorpe Echo was published with the students in early November 2021, they have also developed a full website, an e-newsletter and several social media channels including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to promote their videos. The social media accounts were started by The Oglethorpe Echo intern Mackenzie Tanner and the website, newsletter and YouTube channel were created by journalism graduate student Alex Anteau.
Bright explains there are several video reports and audio slide shows on the YouTube channel and that one of the areas the students talk about in class is pitching story ideas, including multi-media stories.
The Oglethorpe Echo is the only publication in the Game-changer category so it is expected the paper will win the $500 prize award.
The Insight Award for Visual Journalism honors a single story or a series of stories that uses photography and/or other visual media to more accurately portray a community that has traditionally been under-represented or mis-represented in news media. The Oglethorpe Echo is nominated for work that photojournalism students Sydney Fordice (AB ’22) for a video slide show with narration called “King overcomes health issues to win crown,” and Basil Terhune was nominated for a series of photos and short story called “Never-ending egg hunt.”
The winners for all categories of INN Awards will be announced Sept. 21. The winners of the Georgia Health Care Association and Georgia Society of Activity Professionals will be announced Sept. 22.
In the Fall of 2021, The Oglethorpe Echo, a weekly newspaper serving Oglethorpe County, was preparing to shut its doors. Dink NeSmith (ABJ ‘70) stepped in and created a non-profit organization, The Oglethorpe Echo Legacy, Inc., with a Board of Advisers to keep the paper operational. Part of the plan was to provide Grady College students taking the capstone journalism class the experience to do all the reporting and photojournalism under the direction of Bright and Andy Johnston, editor-in-residence.
INN members are 501c(3) organizations or similarly structured to provide news as a charitable service or public good. They set and meet membership standards that include journalistic quality, editorial independence and public transparency around the sources of their funding and their control.