- Associated Press - Friday, June 2, 2017

JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. (AP) - A south Georgia newspaper won a prestigious award for upholding principles of the First Amendment, and journalists across the state were honored in several categories in the Georgia Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.

The awards were announced Friday evening in Jekyll Island.

The Valdosta Daily Times won the Freedom of Information Award for doing the most in 2016 to protect the public’s right to know with its coverage of a hospital authority’s alleged violations of state open meetings laws.

“The Daily Times was honored specifically for its work getting its local hospital authority to comply with Georgia’s Open Meetings Act, even in the face of the hospital pulling its advertising and canceling subscriptions for its patients - a financial loss of more than $80,000 in a year,” the press association said in a statement.

Georgia’s attorney general fined the hospital authority and ordered board members to undergo open government training.

Two young journalists were honored as winners of Emerging Journalist Awards: Brittini Ray of the Savannah Morning News; and Kathleen Sturgeon of the Forsyth Herald. The awards are given to journalists younger than 30 with less than five years of experience writing professionally for a newspaper.

The photograph chosen as Photo of the Year was taken by Josh Galemore of the Savannah Morning News. It shows members of Savannah Fire and Emergency Services standing at attention at the casket of fellow firefighter.

There were 559 awards presented in 37 categories to 73 newspapers.

The complete list of winners can be found at https://gapress.org/contests-2/

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