Journalism students awarded national honors

May 1, 2024

Author: Emily Richardson

VCU student journalists honored with Society of Professional Journalist Mark of Excellence awards

Journalism Student Award Winners
National Journalism Student Awards

In a celebration of journalistic excellence, reporters from VCU InSight and Capital News Service (CNS) were lauded at the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Mark of Excellence awards ceremony held on Saturday, April 13. The accolades, a testament to their dedication and skill, highlighted the collaborative efforts of the Newsroom at VCU, established in the fall of 2023.

Competing in Region 2 against universities from Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., the VCU teams showcased their talent in various categories, with winners advancing to the national competition.

“Ashley and I are incredibly proud that judges selected the student work in these categories, confirming the excellence we see from our Robertson School students every day and the effort they put into reporting important stories across platforms,” said Alix Bryan-Campos, Capital News Service instructor and director of the Newsroom at VCU. “Many talented students at schools throughout several states entered the Mark of Excellence competition, and we applaud all the student reporters whose work was honored.”

Among the standout achievements was VCU InSight's win in the Best All-Around Television Newscast category. The winning submission, an election show, featured comprehensive coverage from the Election Newsroom, as previously highlighted by VCU News.

“For VCU InSight to be recognized as the Best All-Around Newscast is an honor and a testament to the hard work, perseverance, creativity and dedication to strong journalism that these students are committed to through the whole semester,” said Ashley Poerstel, broadcast journalism instructor and director of VCU InSight. “Our goal is that these characteristics continue throughout their careers.”

Anna Chen, a reporter with VCU Capital News Service, clinched the Regional Political Reporting award for her exceptional collection of reports from the spring 2023 General Assembly sessions.

Additionally, the collaborative efforts of InSight reporter Payden Wilson and CNS reporter Kaina Lee earned them finalist status in the Retail/Small Business Journalism category. Their enterprise report delved into the realm of Black tourism in Virginia, shedding light on an often overlooked aspect of the state's economy.

In the Breaking News category, Faith Redd from Capital News Service emerged as a finalist for her article detailing Rep. Jennifer McCllelan's historic victory, marked by its decisiveness and significance.

“The Newsroom at VCU students work extremely hard all semester. They must meet the demands and standards of a reporter who does this as a job everyday,” said Poertsel. “At the same time, they are still learning and growing as students. We want to get them ready in the classroom so that when they enter the media industry, they stand out.”