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Herald claims 11 awards in Better Newspaper Contest
Honors include seven first-place trophies and Photo of the Year
tornado main 1
Judges from the North Carolina Press Association deemed this image from the Ebenezer tornado that ran in the March 18, 2008, edition of the Effingham Herald as the Photo of the Year among Georgia Press Association member newspapers. - photo by File photo

The Effingham Herald took seven first-place awards — and a top distinction among all newspapers in the state — Friday night among its 11 honors at the annual Georgia Press Association Better Newspaper Contest on Jekyll Island.

The Herald won photo of the year for editor Patrick Donahue’s shot of the damage done by the tornado that ripped through the Ebenezer community in March 2008.

“Tragedy, unfortunately, creates the potential for great photos and this one (is) pretty good,” judges wrote in their critique of the photo.
The Herald won first place for community service, detailing the Effingham community’s efforts to assist with the aftermath of the Imperial Sugar refinery explosion in Port Wentworth.

“Excellent follow-up on events and people affected by the tragedy (with) informative detail on community efforts to assist,” judges wrote.

The Herald also garnered first-place awards in feature photo, sports section, sports writing, spot news photo, photo essay and best Web site.

Effingham Herald staff writer Sandi Van Orden captured second place in best news photo. The Herald also claimed third-place awards in editorial writing, layout and design and page one.

“I am very proud of Patrick and Sandi,” said Effingham Herald Publisher Karen Tanksley. “We have a small staff, but they are hard working and put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to make sure the community stays informed. They care about Effingham County and work to provide our readers with a quality publication. It’s nice to see them rewarded by their peers.”

Of the Herald’s photo essay of the Ebenezer tornado damage, judges wrote: “The essay is a strong news package of damage to the community. The lead photo on page one is the photo that carries the entire package.”

Judges hailed Donahue’s sports writing. “There were a lot of good entries in this division,” they wrote, “but this one stood out with strong, clever writing, good use of quotes and descriptive accounts of game action. Good job!”

Judges said of the Herald’s Web site,, that it was “easy to navigate, well-organized, lots of great features and extensive content.”

“We’re very happy that our fellow newspaper people have recognized how hard we work to try to deliver the best product possible to our readers,” Donahue said. “It signifies how hard the staff here works and how much they care about what we do every day.

“The awards are wonderful to get, but they don’t measure up to the comments from our subscribers and readers.”

As a member of the GPA, the Herald competes in Division E, which includes bi-weekly and tri-weekly publications. Judging was performed by the North Carolina Press Association.