When I start to think, “Hey, I’m not that old,” the one thing that will snap me out of that silly fantasy is the realization that I’ve been at The Athens NEWS for EVERY SINGLE ONE of our Best of Athens Readers’ Choice Awards. And there have been 30 of them, counting this year’s.

So here we go again.

Today (Thursday, Jan. 24) marks the end of the nominating round of the 2019 Best of Athens. This means you have until midnight tonight to go to www.athensnews.com, click on the large “Best of Athens” link at the top of our home page (directly below the section menu), and proceed to fill out your choices for the best of everything local, from best activist to best salon to best hamberder (oops, hamburger).  

The top five vote-getters in each Best Of category this first round will appear in the second/final round, which goes live Thursday, Jan. 31, at www.athensnews.com. That round, which lasts a week, will determine first place, second place and third place for each category, with those winners announced in the print editions of The Athens NEWS on Feb. 14 and 18.


RECENTLY, WE’VE HEARD some complaints about Best of Athens on a local commercial radio station. There’s been grousing, in particular, about the “Best Local Journalist” category, with one radio reporter questioning why we changed the wording of this category from “Best Local Media Figure” to “Best Local Journalist.”

He suggested that we changed the wording in order to heighten the chance that one of our journalists would win. While that might be one effect of the change, we adjusted the wording in order to clarify the long-time intent of this category – to honor the best news men and women (journalists) in Athens County. That’s always been the purpose of this category, though in recent years, folks in local radio who strictly speaking are not involved in reporting or editing local news have lobbied their way into contention. (Some of these folks read the news out loud, though that’s not quite the same as reporting or writing it.)

There’s nothing wrong with that, other than Best of Athens already has a category for “DJs and Radio Personalities.” Moreover, if a radio person also happens to be a journalist, he or she remains eligible for both categories. (I use the word “eligible” even though we don’t disqualify nominees for not being appropriate for a category. If someone nominates Lady Gaga for “Best Local Journalist” or “Best Law Enforcement Officer” or even “Best Chicken Wing,” we’ll count that vote.)

The aforementioned radio person also questioned the “Best Local Journalist” category since journalists at the newspaper that runs Best of Athens (us) have a built-in advantage. Of course, that’s true, and we’ve always freely acknowledged that in any write-up where we listed the winners of the “Best Media Figure” category. We’ve almost been apologetic about it.

Also, in order to mitigate that advantage, our news staff has never publicly promoted ourselves to win in any category, including “Best Media Figure” or “Best Local Journalist.” To be honest, I’d be embarrassed to lobby for myself in this context. In fact, please DON’T vote for me! Everybody else in local journalism outside of our news team, however, is free to lobby their hearts out, publicly or privately, and believe me, some of them have not been shy about doing so.

That’s fine, and if somebody outside of our paper wins the Media Figure or Journalist category (which has happened over the years, including the last two), it’s almost a relief. 

Now that we’ve dispatched that minor kerfuffle about Best of Athens, it’s time for you to head over to www.athensnews.com and fill out a ballot, if you haven’t already done so. Then don’t forget to cast your votes in the final round that begins on Jan. 31.

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