Press Release: Celebrating the state’s top student journalist.

By Roxanna Gandía, Director of Georgia Scholastic Press Association

Athens, GA - Co-sponsored by the Georgia Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association, the Georgia Champion Journalist Award is given to the top high school senior journalist in the state.

GSPA received five top-notch submissions for the coveted award for the 2017 competition. It is excited to announce the winner and runner up.

The runner up, while still in high school has shown enormous initiative in covering complicated issues that affect her community but also pushing herself to develop professional skills-including shadowing reporters at the AJC in her spare time. Her photography shows great skill in capturing the right moments to tell a story; her reporting shows an innate understanding of journalism, down to AP Style; and she shows leadership in encouraging other reporters through her editing. Her passion for journalism is clear.

Congratulations to the runner-up Georgia Champion Journalist- Ellie Ritter of Decatur High School. Ellie has been involved with Decatur High School’s news magazine Carpe Diem since 2013. She has served as design editor, copy editor and writer during her tenure in the magazine. Ellie has been successful in both academically and in her extracurricular activities. She has been in the Honor Roll for the last four years, and was inducted to the National Honor Society. In 2015, she was selected as a participant for the Governor’s Honors Program for English/Communicative Arts, a program that selects the top 1% of students in the state. Additionally, she has been involved in Mock Trial, Student Government, Marching Band and Varsity golf. 

The winner of the Georgia Champion Journalist Award photographs first caught the judges’ eye, with their unique compositions and vivid sense of energy and emotion all executed with obvious clarity and purpose. However, her writing is just as strong, with a mature style and developed voice. Her solid reportage-whether in writing, multimedia broadcast or photojournalism-tackles sensitive issues with grace, bolstered by research, a variety of sources, and fruitful follow-up questions. She also shows both self-awareness and thoughtfulness in leading others. Beyond coaching and editing other reporters, she maintains a rigorous program of tracing the social media usage of her fellow students. It is clear that she should pursue journalism as a career, she’ll go far.

Congratulations to the 2017 Georgia Champion Journalist winner- Sophie Fernandes of Clarke Central High School. Sophie has been involved in Clarke Central High School’s Odyssey Newsmagazine since 2014. She has served as managing editor, photography editor, been part of the visuals staff and was a viewpoints writer. She has managed to achieve academic success, continued involvement in extracurricular activities while working part time in a local Athens restaurant. She was inducted to the National Honors Society and was on the Honor Roll. During her tenure in the Odyssey Newsmagazine, Sophie has received various individual awards for her photography and writing. Additionally, Sophie was recognized last year as the Georgia Scholastic Press Association’s Junior Champion Journalist.

Sophie will now compete against the other state winners in the national level. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA convention’s concluding awards in Seattle, WA. The first place winner will win a $3,000 scholarship, while six runner-ups will win $850. The scholarships will be released when a student enrolls in a college journalism program.

Sophie & Ellie will be recognized during the GSPA Workshop and Awards on April 24. During the event, we will also be recognizing the Jr Champion Journalist and all the winners for our Spring Competitions.

Important Dates

APRIL 24: Spring Workshop & Awards Ceremony, Athens GA

MAY 12: Application deadline for the Media & Leadership Academy 

JUNE 4-11: Media & Leadership Academy, Athens GA

JUNE 30: Summer Contest: Yearbook & Literary Magazine submission deadline. 

GSPA assists high and middle school media programs and students in the state of Georgia by encouraging their production of quality publications and broadcast programs through instruction and local competitions.

Throughout the year, GSPA sponsors three main events: the Fall Conference, the Spring Awards Ceremony and the Summer Journalism Academy. A short Advisers' Workshop is also offered in the summer prior to the Georgia Journalism Academy.

In addition to general excellence ratings for publications as a whole, GSPA also provides many individual competitions. High school juniors and seniors can apply for the junior Georgia Journalist of the Year and the Journalist of the Year. Seniors who receive the JOY award will then be entered into a national competition. 


In order to enrich the experience of GSPA members, GSPA publishes a monthly bulletin with news and updates for members. The Winner's Circle is produced annually and highlights the year's All-Georgia award winners in each category. 

GSPA Sponsors 2016-2017

Herff Jones Yearbooks, Gold Level

Herff Jones Yearbooks, Gold Level



Jostens Yearbooks, Gold Level

Jostens Yearbooks, Gold Level, Silver Level, Silver Level

SNO Sites, Friends of GSPA Level

SNO Sites, Friends of GSPA Level

The Red & Black, College Level

The Red & Black, College Level

Interested in becoming a member for the 2016-17 year? Interested in renewing your membership for the 2016-17 year? Find our new online membership form here.