Behind the Byline: This is why Joe Kovac cares about the Macon community
The Telegraph and Ledger-Enquirer newspapers were honored by the Georgia Associated Press Media Editors on Saturday for work done in 2018.
Reporters Joe Kovac Jr. and Stanley Dunlap with the Telegraph and Tim Chitwood of the L-E each received at least one award.
Kovac received two first place awards, one in best feature writing and the other in best deadline reporting.
In best feature writing, Kovac was honored for “‘Deranged’ murderer says voices urged him to kill Ga. woman and attack college kids,” an in-depth look at the night Quentin Sanders shot and killed a random stranger, Ida Mae Ford:
“The night he shot and killed a random stranger, Quentin Sanders roamed the heart of inner-city Macon in the rain. He had voices in his head and a .40-caliber pistol in his pocket.
At age 41, he had been in and out of prison twice since the turn of the century. In 1999, he attacked someone in Columbus. A decade later, in 2010, he opened fire on his girlfriend in Montezuma, and a bullet he fired wounded his 3-year-old daughter.
More recently, in 2015, Sanders was sent away for assaulting a cop in Dooly County. He was paroled last September. But 125 days later, on the night of Jan. 8, he was wandering the streets of Macon. He happened upon a woman named Ida Mae Ford.”
Judges for this category were impressed with Kovac’s lede and comprehensiveness: “This story had me hooked from the opening graf. Very well done.”
Kovac was also awarded first place in deadline reporting for “From ‘first punch’ to ‘first shot’: When bullets fly on Macon’s quick-to-shoot streets.” The article, published on Dec. 28, 2018, explored why some teens in Macon are quick to turn to guns as a problem solver.
Dunlap was awarded third place in beat reporting for his work in government accountability, most notably his coverage of the 2018 budget crisis.
“Very impactful reporting on complex budget issues that were still easy to read and digest,” judges wrote. “His ability to write with brevity made the subject matter more engaging.”
“‘Comprehensive,’ ‘impactful,’ and ‘engaging’ were just some of the words that the judges used in describing the work of Joe Kovac and Stanley Dunlap. I couldn’t agree more,” South Region Editor Tim Regan-Porter said. “They, along with all of their colleagues at The Telegraph, work tirelessly to serve this community. While reporters don’t do this for the awards, it’s nice to see the Georgia Associated Press recognize their excellent work.”
Chitwood was awarded first place for his coverage of the execution of Carlton Gary, also known as the “Stocking Strangler,” in “Dead silence: ‘Stocking Strangler’ says nothing, never opens his eyes during execution.”
Chitwood was chosen as the media monitor for the execution and chronicled the events of the day leading up to Gary’s execution.
“Carlton Gary had nothing to say.
“The convicted serial killer offered no famous last words, and never opened his eyes, before a lethal dose of pentobarbital sent him off to oblivion at 10:33 p.m. in the death chamber at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.”
Judges commented, “Truly affecting writing and important coverage.”
“Tim’s passion for documenting the people of Columbus and their impact while here, good or bad, shines through every day. I’m proud to call him a colleague and see his hard work recognized,” Georgia Deputy Editor Lauren Gorla, based in Columbus, said.
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