ATLANTA — Todd DeFeo was honored by the Georgia Press Association (GPA) with a first place award for investigative reporting. DeFeo won the award for articles he wrote while serving as a reporter with the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald. DeFeo left the Athens Banner-Herald in May 2007 to join Weber Shandwick.
As part of its annual Better Newspaper contest, the GPA bestows dozens of awards to both individual reporters and newspapers as a whole. Award categories are broken down into classes based on a newspaper’s circulation.
“Being a reporter isn’t about winning awards, but it is nice to be recognized by your peers,” DeFeo said. “Hopefully, my reporting helped inform residents about what was happening in their community. After all, that is the true mark of quality journalism.”
The GPA honored DeFeo based on three articles he wrote in February and March 2007 – an article about a controversial precinct the Winder, Ga., police department opened; a report about a district attorney who is now serving a six-year prison sentence for corruption; and coverage of a ring of marijuana grow houses police uncovered in Metro Atlanta. DeFeo “dug beneath the surface and told personal stories to illustrate the news behind the news,” the judges wrote.
DeFeo’s previous accolades include Story of the Year honors from the Georgia Associated Press for his coverage of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process in 2005. As part of his award-winning coverage, DeFeo traveled to Anniston, Ala., to examine how a previous BRAC round affected that town after Fort McClellan closed. Athens’ Navy Supply Corps School was among the bases the BRAC committee in 2005 recommended be closed.
In April 2007, the Georgia Associated Press again honored DeFeo with a first place award, this time for deadline reporting. The award was given for a report about a fatal shooting at the Jackson County, Ga., courthouse.