Clayton News Daily garners GPA awards

Editor feted for open government advovacy

JEKYLL ISLAND — The Clayton News Daily has been recognized by the Georgia Press Association for its community coverage and its editor Jim Zachary has received the David E. Hudson Award for Open Government.

The coveted David Hudson Award was created to honor journalists who work to keep government meetings and records open to the public.

The award is named for one of the nation’s leading First Amendment and Open Government attorneys, David Hudson.

Hudson was on-hand for the presentation and called Zachary a “warrior for open government.”

“I have had a very fortunate career and been honored with many awards, but this one means more than words can express because of the man whose name it bears.” Zachary said during his acceptance speech. “David Hudson’s work reminds us why we do what we do. It is not about the awards. It is about each of our communities and the people who read our newspapers.”

Zachary encouraged the newspaper executives at the awards presentation to support and empower reporters and editors who are true watchdogs and hold government accountable.

“Our work should be underpinned with the core principle that government belongs to the governed and not to the governing,” he said.

For the second year in a row, one of the newspapers where Zachary serves as editor has received the coveted Freedom of Information Award. Last year the honor went to the Clayton News Daily and this year it was awarded to its sister paper, the Henry Daily Herald.

The FOI Award is considered one of the state’s top honors for newspapers and recognizes journalists who champion government transparency.

Robert Williams, president of the National Newspaper Association, was honored at the beginning of the awards ceremony and encouraged Zachary to, “keep doing what you do and keep inspiring others to do it.”

Zachary said, “I have been blessed throughout my career and am humbled by the awards I have received both in Tennessee and Georgia, but what drives me and inspires the work is the plight of ordinary men and women who struggle to pay their property taxes each year, are concerned about quality education for their children or believe they are powerless to fight city hall.”

The News Daily’s Sports Editor Derrick Mahone received a first place award for Sports Coverage and reporter Heather Middleton received the top honor for Photo Essay at the 2014 GPA convention at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.

Second place honors were earned by Curt Yeomans for Photo Essay and to Gabe Stovall for Sports Column.

Third place awards were given to Curt Yeomans for Business Coverage and to the newspaper for Sports Section.