Published without interruption since opened in 1947, the Southerner, the school's award-winning newspaper, has always been an essential part of the campus culture.
The Southerner staff recently received its 2011-2012 National Scholastic Press Association evaluation and for the 10th time in 11 years, it is an All-American rating, NSPA's highest.
That performance qualifies the Southerner to be inducted into the NSPA Hall of Fame. This accomplishment honors the work of 12 senior classes of outstanding scholastic journalists who have contributed to the staff from the fall of 2001 to the present. The paper is sponsored by faculty members David Winter and Kate Carter.
Even in its first years of publication, the paper earned top evaluation scores from the top national scholastic press associations (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 65 years of publication.
During the longstanding tenure of adviser Riki Bolster, Grady 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 the 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, Chelsea Cook, 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.