by Brian Lamar, Assignment Editor

For many residents along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the most positive regular new source is The Gazebo Gazette.

Residents like it for its news coverage of the events and happenings right here in South Mississippi. In a day and age where the print industry looks like it is going obsolete across the country; after 16 years, the Gazette staff still manages to attract readers and advertisers.

“The Gazette was a savior to this town after Katrina. It was the only news source we had for a while,” said Phoebe Caitlind, a South Mississippi native.

The staff at The Gazebo Gazette has accomplished a number of goals over the past few years.

During his four and a half years as Publisher/Owner; Hunter Dawkins and the newspaper has won over 11 plaques for first place in its division and nearly 30 certificates honoring the community journalism throughout the state.

The small town, community newspaper won its first national award along with a certificate this year as a member of the National Newspaper Association (NNA), which is a trade organization that spotlights these organizations throughout the country.

As the only paper in the state to win a national award from the NNA this year, the award was for the best Metro Graphic Best Advertising Idea in the nation among small, weekly newspapers.

Additionally, the newspaper received a national certificate for the Best Real Estate Ads in the country in its division.

Winners were recognized at the awards ceremony held Saturday, October 2, 2021, during the NNAF’s 135th Annual Convention & Trade Show in Jacksonville, Florida.

There were 1,229 entries in the Better Newspaper Editorial Contest and 180 entries in the Better Newspaper Advertising Contest for a total of 1,409 entries. A total of 509 awards were won by 83 member newspapers in 33 states.

“I am truly honored that the paper was recognized by this prestigious organization for the hard work done,” said Dawkins, who is the fourth publisher/owner of the independent newspaper in 16 years.

“This is a thank you to all of my advertisers, their trust, and faith in me to help build their business.”

Dawkins earned his masters degree from George Washington University and bachelors from Catholic University while working on the staff of former Members of Congress between 2001 until 2009.

During this time, the publisher was a columnist for the local college newspaper getting his feet wet in media coverage.

After returning to the Coast in 2009, Dawkins changed careers to secondary teaching and coaching from 2009 to 2015 where he received multiple state licenses before jumping into journalism in late 2015.

Since being employed with five different newspapers, the publisher has remained devoted to his local community coverage and outreach for small businesses, which is the foundation of the National Newspaper Association Foundation.

The Gazebo Gazette plans to continue what it does best.

Shine a light on local news that normally would go unnoticed by other media outlets. For many it has and continues to be a facet for information.

“It’s great working with a local paper that knows what’s going on in our community and adds such a personal touch to their writing. Congratulations to The Gazebo Gazette,” said Donald Frazer, Long Beach Alderman-at-large.