Ashton Phelps Jr., president and publisher of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, was presented the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association’s Frank W. Mayborn Leadership Award, while a writing team from his paper also won the group’s top prize for commentary writing. Both honors were tied to the paper’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
The leadership award, given to Phelps at the group’s annual convention this week in Naples, Fla., recognizes outstanding SNPA publishers and editors for their vision, leadership and significant contributions to the newspaper industry.
Phelps was honored for his leadership and his newspaper’s award-winning work during and after Hurricane Katrina, which forced the evacuation of New Orleans.
A lifelong resident of New Orleans, Phelps has worked at The Times-Picayune since his graduation from Tulane University Law School in 1970. He was named assistant to the publisher in 1971 and also vice president and secretary in 1975. He succeeded his father, Ashton Phelps Sr., as president and publisher in 1979.
Six months after he became publisher, the morning Times-Picayune and the afternoon States-Item combined into an all-day newspaper, the Times-Picayune & States-Item. The paper was renamed The Times-Picayune in October 1986.
Awarded first place in the group’s 2006 Carmage Walls Commentary Prize were Terri Troncale, Dante Ramos, Jarvis DeBerry and Sara Pagones of The Times-Picayune and Stan Tiner, executive editor of the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald.
The writing team from The Times-Picayune won in the over-50,000 circulation category and Tiner won in the under-50,000 category for their editorials written in the aftermath of last year’s hurricanes.
Second-place awards went to Rodger Jones and Mike Hashimoto of The Dallas (Texas) Morning News and to David Klement, editorial page editor of The Herald, Bradenton, Fla.
In the SNPA Foundation’s Photo of the Year contest, Amelia Phillips of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock won first place for her photo of a girl and her brothers saying goodbye to their father before he left for Iraq.
The photo contest recognizes and rewards excellence in photography at newspapers throughout the South. In its fifth year, the contest attracted 604 photos. Phillips’ photo was judged to be the best because of its technical quality, originality and overall aesthetics. She received a $1,000 prize and an engraved award.
More than 420 daily newspapers, primarily in the South and Southeast, are members of the SNPA, which is based in Atlanta.