Published without interruption since Henry W. Grady High School opened in 1947, The Southerner has always been an essential part of the campus culture. Even in its first years of publication, the paper earned top evaluation scores from the top national scholastic press associations (The National Scholastic Press Association or NSPA, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association or CSPA, and the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists). When the school launched the School of Communications (Communication Magnet) in 1983, the Southerner was the foundation upon which the program was built. As the SOC gained notoriety and its enrollment grew, many other outstanding programs joined the newspaper program – broadcast journalism, visual arts, forensics, mock trial, fashion and design to name a few – but The Southerner has remained a standard bearer of the school’s communication program throughout its 64 years of publication.
During the longstanding tenure of adviser Riki Bolster, Grady High School won the Georgia Scholastic Press Award All-Georgia Award seven years in a row as the best overall journalism program in the state. In 1994, the Southerner was named a finalist for the Pacemaker Award, the highest honor awarded to NSPA members, for the first time. In 1995, the school won the first of six Pacemaker Awards.
The last decade has been a very successful one for the Southerner. The awards the staff has collected is unprecedented. In addition to winning four NSPA Pacemaker Awards (2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2011) and being a finalist in 2010, the staff earned the Crown Award, CSPA’s top honor, five times (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011) and are again a finalist for 2012 with hopes of winning the Gold Crown for our first time ever, and the George H. Gallup Award, Quill and Scroll’s top staff award four times (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011).
In 2006, members of the Southerner staff launched Nexus magazine, a full-color magazine focused on cultural trends and events. Originally a supplement to the newspaper, the magazine has grown into an independent publication, which has earned national accolades of its own. In the spring of 2009, CSPA awarded Nexus with a First Place Gold Circle Award for having the best design for a specialty magazine in the nation. They are nominated as a finalist for this award for 2012.
Individual Southerner and Nexus journalists have excelled in competition as well. The two staffs have earned hundreds of state, regional and national awards for excellence in scholastic journalism. Since 2002, a Southerner or Nexus staff member has been named the Georgia Journalist of the Year seven times. Former Southerner editors have gone on to excel in collegiate journalism. 2006 co-managing editor Matt Westmoreland was the editor of The Princetonian, the daily at Princeton University; his co-managing editor served as the managing editor of The Red and Black, the daily at The University of Georgia. 2007 co-managing editor Sarah Beth McKay served as the editor of Thirty-Fourth Street Magazine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The 2009-2010 school year served the Southerner staff well. For the third time in the decade, The Southerner was named the top newspaper in the state. Co-managing editor Caroline McKay was named Georgia Journalist of the Year, and news editor Ben Gittelson was named the top 11th-grade journalist in the state. The award was also given to the 2010-2011 staff member Shaun Kleber. The Southerner and Nexus staffs combined to capture 10 individual All-Georgia Awards and 26 individual Superior ratings. Additionally,The Southerner staff was honored for having the Best News Coverage and the Best Editorial Coverage in the state.
After a banner recruiting year, The Southerner and Nexus are poised to sustain and to improve a tradition of excellence in scholastic journalism that rivals that of any school in the nation.