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Shut out, again: AFP goes oh-for-the-journalism awards season again in 2024

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It is, apparently, journalism awards season, the time where editors brag about how good they are, in the eyes of the judges, and for the umpteenth year, AFP was shut out, again, though that’s in part for lack of trying.

Basically, ever since the now-former editor of the News Virginian took full credit for a community-service project that we were involved in as a partner to win one of the top awards from the Virginia Press Association back several years ago now, we tapped out on the awards thing.

I mean, I got it then, get it now, that winning awards is fun, it’s great, it’s personally fulfilling.

I dunno, though.

One of the local papers, for instance, won an award this year for informing citizens about a zoning issue with articles supposedly informing citizens to show up at meetings to allow them to get their point across.

I remember that issue, and my contribution to the informing people to show up at meetings part of the story was actually directly telling one of the residents affected by the proposed zoning change that she should get her neighbors together to go to the meetings so that they could let city leaders know what they thought.

We’ve been fighting with Augusta County since the summer to try to get the Board of Supervisors to release the recording of a closed meeting discussing the resignation of a board member that a retired judge originally ruled was held illegally, before backtracking on that point, for some unknown reason.

The local papers and TV and news radio stations didn’t join us in that fight, and they’ve all remained silent on the issue involving the misguided move by Waynesboro Public Schools to hire a man with a troubling criminal record to be the new football coach and security officer at Waynesboro High School.

We were the ones out there this time last year highlighting the Stuarts Draft High School girls basketball coach with the tattoo touting an antigovernment militia and social-media history to back it up, again, without any backup from the rest of the local media.

The rest were all also strangely silent on the troubling podcasts of Waynesboro Vice Mayor Jim Wood, a right-wing extremist who made bad jokes about the politically motivated attack on the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, then garnered national-TV attention to the River City for his anti-gay slur of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

We don’t have a great won-loss record on all of this, to be up front.

Wood is still the vice mayor, for instance, though he did kill his podcast, and deleted years of past podcasts from the interwebs (but not before I was able to save copies).

The girls basketball coach did decide to step down, though, I don’t know that I consider that a win.

The WHS football coach thing, I assume at this point, is going to see the school board circle the wagons, and I assume the same with the county closed-meeting case, which I can’t imagine is going to end with the recording ever being made public.

But, hey, we’re going to keep trying to fight the noble fight, at the very least.

Would it be nice to have somebody hand us an award at some ceremony?

Gotta be honest here: I hate awards banquets.

Any day that I don’t have to wear a tie and make small talk while eating rubber chicken is a good day.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].