On June 9, The Echo earned nine section and individual awards in the Georgia Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest. (Photo: UGA Marketing & Communications)
The Oglethorpe Echo earns long list of awards and recognition
What a spring it has been for The Oglethorpe Echo and the Grady College students and faculty members who staff and support it.
Over the past several months, The Echo, a 149-year-old newspaper in nearby Oglethorpe County saved in 2021 through a partnership with Grady College, has been profiled in several national and local news publications, received grants to support readership growth, joined a group of independent and nonprofit news organizations, and won numerous awards.
On June 9, The Echo earned nine section and individual awards in the Georgia Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest. The Grady student journalists who won the awards competed against full-time, professional journalists from around the state, many of whom have been covering their cities and counties for years.
Kate Hoffman, second place, Breaking News Writing, Division D
Basil Terhune, first and third place, Best Photo Gallery on a Newspaper Website, Division Weekly
Katie Tucker, first place, Photo Essay, Division D
Julia Walkup, third place, Feature Photograph, Division D
The Oglethorpe Echo Staff, first place, Newspaper Website, Division Weekly
The Oglethorpe Echo Staff, first place, Magazine Product, Division Weekly
The Oglethorpe Echo Staff, second place, Local News Coverage, Division D
The Oglethorpe Echo Staff, third place, Religion Writing, Division Weekly
“Having the privilege of getting to know the people of Oglethorpe County and being trusted to share their stories was one of the formative experiences of my time in Grady and I’m beyond grateful to have played a small part in the ever-growing success of The Echo,” said Katie Tucker (AB ‘23), a journalism major who graduated in May.
On top of that, The Echo was accepted into Google for Nonprofits, which allows the paper to use Google Ad Grants each month to promote itself as a viable online source of local journalism for the county, and joined the Rural News Network, a group of independent and nonprofit news organizations dedicated to surfacing the pressing issues facing rural communities in the United States.
“I’m thrilled that our work at The Echo has been successful and noticed, and it’s because our students have come to truly appreciate and enjoy covering Oglethorpe County,” said Amanda Bright, the instructor of the capstone journalism class that staffs The Echo. “They see doing community journalism as an important act of service, and the people of the county have been welcoming and encouraging of our efforts to bring them local news and information each week.”
“The Echo’s success has been remarkable,” added Andy Johnston (ABJ ‘88, MA ‘21), who leads the capstone course and serves as The Echo’s editor. “Nobody knew what would come of this endeavor when we started 19 months ago, but our students have worked hard and embraced community journalism, and readers throughout Oglethorpe County have supported and encouraged us from the beginning. I’m privileged and honored to be a part of what we call Team Echo. I look forward to seeing continued growth in our students and the paper.”
This recent chapter in The Echo’s long history started in October 2021, when Dink NeSmith (ABJ ‘70), a long-time resident of Oglethorpe County and co-owner of Athens-based Community Newspapers, Inc. (CNI), with publications in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina, heard that his friend Ralph Maxwell was shutting down the local paper, which has been around since the 1870s.
NeSmith, searching for an answer on how to save The Echo, decided to reach out to Charles Davis (MA ‘92), dean of Grady College. The two developed a plan. Grady College created a capstone course with The Echo as its foundation. The idea was, and still is, that students are able to work for the paper and receive real-world experience, while The Echo gains a full staff of talented reporters.
More on The Echo’s partnership with Grady College can be found here, in UGA Today’s recent piece.
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