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Students win 14 awards in SPJ contest

Apr 9, 2016

Posted in: News

VCU InSight, the School’s student-produced newscast, airs on WCVW-TV Richmond PBS.
VCU InSight, the School’s student-produced newscast, airs on WCVW-TV Richmond PBS.

VCU students won 14 awards, including four first-place honors, in the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2015 Mark of Excellence competition for Region 2, SPJ officials announced Saturday.

VCU InSight, the Robertson School’s student-produced news show broadcast on public television station WCVW, won first place in the Best All-Around Television Newscast category. The VCU InSight entry featured producer Alyssa Sims and associate producers Nichelle Pearson, Stefani Zenteno and Alonzo Small.

One of Travis Ellison’s award-winning photos
One of Travis Ellison’s award-winning photos

Travis Ellison, a December graduate, won first place in Feature Photography for his pictures of the UCI Road World Championships, an international bicycle race held in Richmond in September. Ellison shot his photos as part of Crowdsourcing the Worlds, a course offered by the Robertson School. They were published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the VCU Great Bike Race Book.

Gareth Bentall won first place for Editorial Cartooning for his work in the Commonwealth Times, VCU’s independent student newspaper. Shannon Wright and Annette Allen were finalists in that category.

Audry Dubon’s photo of bicyclist Peter Sagan
Audry Dubon’s photo of bicyclist Peter Sagan

And Audry Dubon won first place in Sports Photography for photos published in the Commonwealth Times. Another photo by Dubon, done for Crowdsourcing the Worlds and published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Richmond.com, was a finalist in that category.

The awards were presented Saturday at SPJ’s Region 2 Spring Conference, held at the Hilton hotel at Short Pump. The conference was co-sponsored by the SPJ @ VCU and Virginia Pro chapters of SPJ; it was held concurrently with the Virginia Press Association‘s annual conference. School journalism faculty members Jeff South and Dr. Tim Bajkiewicz co-chaired the conference.

In the regional competition, VCU students compete against college journalists in Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. VCU is in the “large” division, going up against schools with more than 10,000 students. Student journalists could enter in the contest work published or broadcast during calendar year 2015.

Four entries by VCU’s Capital News Service were honored as finalists in the competition:

¶ Benjamin May, Sean C.W. Korsgaard, Janeal Downs and Michael Melkonian were finalists in the Breaking News Reporting category for their coverage of former Gov. Bob McDonnell being sentenced to prison for corruption.FauquierNow.com, as well as other news organizations, ran the CNS report.

¶ Downs and Cameron Vigliano were finalists in Online In-Depth Reporting for a series of stories on Native Americans in Virginia. The stories were published by RVA News, among other outlets.

Michael Melkonian’s photo of ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell

Michael Melkonian’s photo of ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell
Michael Melkonian’s photo of ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell

Melkonian was a finalist in Breaking News Photography for photos of McDonnell’s sentencing.

¶ Melkonian also was a finalist in Radio News Reporting for a CNS story titled “A-F School Evaluation System Undergoing Changes.” The story was aired by WCVE, Richmond’s NPR station.

The Commonwealth Times was a finalist in Editorial Writing, and CT news editor Fadel Allassan was a finalist in Feature Writing. Also, Ink Magazine was a finalist for Best Student Magazine.

The first-place winners from the regional competition advance to the national Mark of Excellence winners. The national winners will be announced at the Excellence in Journalism conference, to be held in New Orleans on Sept. 18-20.