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VCU students win more than 20 awards from SPJ and VPA

Apr 10, 2017

Posted in: News

This past weekend, VCU students had a healthy showing at the Society of Professional Journalists Region 2 Mark of Excellence Awards competition where they went home with a total of 14 awards across multiple categories.

At the award show, which had student competitors from other schools in Virginia, Delaware, D.C., Maryland and North Carolina, VCU students were finalists in 10 categories and won two categories for Region 2: General News Photography and Online Opinion and Commentary. The two winners will now advance to the national Mark of Excellence Awards competition.

"We're so proud of our students' accomplishments,” Jeff South, associate professor of journalism in the Robertson School and co-adviser to SPJ at VCU, said. “VCU students were recognized for their excellence across the board: for writing, photography, multimedia, editorial cartooning and television journalism. It's great to see their hard work pay off. The winning entries showcased the best of VCU's independent student media -- notably the Commonwealth Times newspaper -- as well as work from the School's TV show, VCU InSight, and Capital News Service."

Aside from winning in General News Photography and Online Opinion and Commentary, VCU students were also finalists in the following areas: Best All-Around Television Newscast, In-Depth Reporting, Breaking News Photography, General News Photography, Feature Photography, Best Use of Multimedia, General Column Writing, Editorial Cartooning, Sports Photography and Sports Column Writing.

The Mark of Excellence Awards, according to SPJ, are intended to showcase the “best student journalism” being produced across the organization’s 12 regions. This year marked the eighth consecutive year that VCU students have either won, or been finalists, in the competition for Region 2.  

Besides receiving numerous SPJ honors, the Commonwealth Times won 11 awards in this year’s Virginia Press Association contest. The awards, presented at the VPA’s annual conference on Saturday (April 8), recognized work published during 2016.

Competing against other non-daily publications in its circulation group, the CT won first place for:

  • Front Page
  • General Makeup
  • Lifestyle Or Entertainment Pages
  • Sports Pages
  • Column Writing (by Eleanor Fialk)
  • Sports Column Writing (by Sophia Belletti)

Sarah Butler of the Commonwealth Times won second place for Page Design. Fadel Allassan won third place for Business and Financial Writing, and Sarah King won third place for Public Safety Writing.

The CT was an alternate, or honorable mention, in the Editorial Pages category and in Sports Column Writing (by Zachary Joachim).

Below is a full list of finalists and winners for the SPJ Region 2 Mark of Excellence Awards, along with their respective categories:

Finalist for Best All-Around Television Newscast
Darnell Myrick, Erika Robinson, Danielle Guichard and Nancy Gabaldon
VCU InSight

Finalist for In-Depth Reporting
Sarah King
Foundation Helps Addicts Recover as Opioid Deaths Soar (Commonwealth Times via Capital News Service)

Finalist for In-Depth Reporting
Fadel Allassan
Why Experts Say Virginia’s Mental Health System Fell Through the Cracks

Finalist for Breaking News Photography
Andrew Crider
Richmond Greyhound Shooting

Winner for General News Photography
Geo Mirador
SremmLife 2 Takes on The National

Finalist for General News Photography
Andrew Crider
School Protest

Finalist for Feature Photography
Diana DiGangi
Photos of Tangier Island (WTKR via Capital News Service)

Finalist for Feature Photography
Casey Cole, Julie Tripp, Ali Jones and Erin Edgerton
Trump’s Shocking Win Sparks Days of Civil Unrest in Richmond

Finalist for Best Use of Multimedia
Jesse Adcock, Julie Tripp and staff of The Commonwealth Times
Anti-Trump protestors shut down highway

Finalist for General Column Writing
Muktaru Jalloh
Selected columns, the Commonwealth Times

Winner for Online Opinion and Commentary
Eleanor Fialk
Online Opinion and Commentary in the Commonwealth Times

Finalist for Editorial Cartooning
Gareth Bentall
Editorial Cartoons

Finalist for Sports Photography
Becca Schwartz
Sophomore Point Guard Jonathan Williams

Finalist for Sports Column Writing
Sophia Belletti and Zach Joachim
Sports column writing in The Commonwealth Times