SPARTANBURG — The Laurens County Advertiser was recognized with three awards this past Saturday at the S.C. Press Association’s annual awards luncheon for weekly newspapers.
The Advertiser earned two first-place awards, including the top honors in the Editorial Writing and Spot News Photograph categories. The staff received first-place prize in Editorial Writing, while Editor John Clayton took first place for his spot-news photograph. Sports Editor Nick Herman earned third place for Headline Writing.
“We’re honored to receive these awards,” Advertiser Associate Publisher James Brown said. “There are so many talented, dedicated journalists in this state — from the smallest weekly publications to the largest dailies — the competition is tough every year.”
Each publication submitted three editorials from the previous year to be considered by judges. Two of the winning editorials addressed the divisiveness in the Laurens community surrounding the referendum for a new Laurens District 55 High School, which was soundly defeated this past September. The third took on the extended work-related absences from Laurens County Council meetings by Councilman Keith Tollison.
“Concise, well-reasoned and a voice of moderation to its community,” the judges’ comments read of the Advertiser’s submissions.
Clayton’s award-winning photograph was taken after the body of a newborn was discovered by Laurens County Sheriff’s Office deputies in a Fountain Inn apartment. The photo showed Deputy Coroner Rodney Hartsell carrying the infant’s body toward the coroner’s amblance.
“I felt then that it was a good news photo. I positioned myself at the rear of the ambulance when I saw it pulled around, anticipating the path from the apartment,” Clayton said. “But it’s probably the saddest photo I’ve ever taken, too.”
The judges said: “Ideal example of being at the right place at the right time while also being brave enough to honestly depict tragedy.”
Clayton said the photo almost didn’t happen.
“I’d taken several shots as deputies rummaged through household items looking for evidence and realized the camera’s battery was running low,” he said. “I had just enough battery for a couple of shots, and the last one was good enough.”
The playoff appearance of the Presbyterian College men’s tennis team against host Texas in Austin inspired one of Herman’s award-winning headlines: Hitting their Austin City limits,” while The Beatles inspired, “Hey, Bulldogs: Boiling Springs extends LDHS woes.” His third entry introduced a LDHS victory over Wade Hampton with “Ray, Laurens rally to demote Generals.”