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Herald reporter honored for coverage of former Winthrop president

The Herald’s Anna Douglas has won a President’s Award for journalism excellence from The McClatchy Co. because of her reporting on former Winthrop University President Jamie Comstock Williamson in 2014.

Douglas, 25, reported that Williamson had granted pay hikes of up to 33 percent to several senior administrators without alerting the school’s Board of Trustees. Douglas also reported that Williamson had approved a 40 percent increase in summer school tuition without informing students or faculty.

Additionally, Douglas reported that emails and other documents indicated Williamson was involved in the hiring of her husband for a temporary, part-time job in the president’s office. And other documents showed that some Winthrop staffers complained they had been bullied by Williamson.

After Douglas’ reporting on the hiring of Williamson’s husband, Larry, the Winthrop board of trustees called a special meeting in June. At that meeting, Williamson was suspended, and the board gave notice it intended to fire her. Less than two weeks later, the board fired Williamson.

Douglas, a 2011 Winthrop University graduate, is the former editor of the school’s student newspaper, The Johnsonian, and the 2011 S.C. Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year.

Several other Carolinas newspapers were honored by McClatchy. They include:

• 

The Charlotte Observer,

for its “Fatally Flawed” series about the careless work of many North Carolina medical examiners;



• 

The Island Packet

of Hilton Head, which fought decisions by local judges that kept information from the public;



• A reporting team that included staffers from

The Charlotte Observer

,

The State

of Columbia, and the

News and Observer

of Raleigh. The team reported on problems involving contractors who worked on federal projects.



Winning digital honors from McClatchy were:

• 

The State

of Columbia for its political blog, The Buzz, whose traffic surged in 2014;



• 

The Sun News

of Myrtle Beach for its new GotoMyrtleBeach.com travel website;



• 

The Island Packet,

which celebrated Halloween by inviting readers to help write a collective ghost story.



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