Education is one of the most important topics we cover in our community, and it’s rewarding for both Mark and for the newspaper to have his news reporting recognized on a state level.Kim Dennis, Effingham Herald publisher
ATLANTA — During its annual conference held this past weekend at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel, the Georgia School Boards Association named Effingham Herald editor Mark Lastinger a winner of the prestigious Beacon Award.
The Beacon Award is an honor given annually by the Association to media outlets for their role in informing the public about school-related issues. Lastinger accepted the award during a luncheon at the conference.
In nominating Lastinger for the award, Effingham County School Board members wrote:
“Mr. Lastinger reports on all aspects of our school system with a professional and impartial tone … He has fully immersed himself into the Effingham County community and shown a true interest in providing fair and thorough information to his readers.”
According to the GSBA, the award is to recognize “print and electronic media representatives or organizations whose coverage over time has created understanding of public education issues by informing the general public about programs, policies and/or issues affecting the public schools, students, and/or communities.”
Each media organization’s local school board had to provide a nomination.
Effingham Herald publisher Kim Dennis also praised Lastinger’s work.
“We are very proud to see Mark’s hard work in education coverage honored with the Beacon Award,” she said. “Education is one of the most important topics we cover in our community, and it’s rewarding for both Mark and for the newspaper to have his news reporting recognized on a state level.”
In its nomination, the Effingham School District included eight articles written by Lastinger that each represented a different aspect of coverage in the school district. His nomination included the following:
“Mr. Lastinger makes every effort to impartially cover information that is important to the families of the Effingham County School District … He is as willing to attend one of our Board of Education meetings as he is to cover one of our many extracurricular events. We are grateful that Mr. Lastinger makes an outstanding effort to share knowledge regarding all aspects of our school system, and we are happy to recommend him for the 2018 Beacon Award.”
Lastinger was named editor of the Effingham Herald in August 2017. He came to the Herald from the Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette in Bluffton, S.C., and McClatchy Newsdesk East in Charlotte, N.C. He served as a copy editor and page designer for the Packet/Gazette and the Bradenton (Fla.) Herald, Charlotte Observer, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Durham (N.C.) News & Observer, Macon Telegraph, Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Sun, Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer, Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald, Center Daily Times (Pa.) and The State (S.C.).
Lastinger spent the bulk of his career at the Thomasville Times-Enterprise. He was its managing editor from June 2002 until July 2016 when he moved to Rincon to be near his daughter, Meg Conway, and her family.
When he was hired back in 2017, Lastinger said: “I’m eager to get started writing stories about Effingham County, its happenings and its people. There are plenty of good ones to tell. I’ve learned in my 30 years in this business that a newspaper should be an accurate reflection of its people and its culture, and my co-workers and I are going to work hard to make sure that happens.”
The Effingham County School District was a finalist for the GSBA's Governance Team of the Year Award, joining Bleckley County, Chickamauga City, Dawson County, Forsyth County, Gwinnett County, Jefferson City, Lumpkin County, Pierce County and Schley County. Gwinnett County received the award.