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SPJ honors 24 VCU entries in Mark of Excellence contest

Apr 15, 2020

Posted in: News

The Society of Professional Journalists announced the winners in the 2019 Mark of Excellence contest for Region 2 (Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Delaware and the District of Columbia) this week. SPJ honored a total of 24 entries from VCU: Eight first-place winners (which have advanced to the national competition) and 16 finalists.

"Congrats to all of our Robertson School winners and finalists. That's an extraordinary achievement at this prestigious competition," said Dr. Marcus Messner, interim director of the Robertson School. "Congrats of course also to all of the winners from our friends at the Student Media Center, especially at The Commonwealth Times and at Ink Magazine." 

Seventeen stories and photo packages distributed by the Robertson School's Capital News Service last year were honored in the competition. CNS entries won first place in seven categories, and 10 other entries were finalists. In addition, VCU InSight, a television show produced by the School's students, won a first-place award.

Newspapers

Breaking News Reporting (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Hashmi’s election draws racist comments on Facebook – by Hannah Eason and Sravan Gannavarapu, Virginia Commonwealth University (Data Journalism; distributed by CNS; published by AP)

General News Reporting (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: In one VA city, 93 opioid pills a year for every resident – by Andrew Riddler and Sravan Gannavarapu, Virginia Commonwealth University (Data Journalism; distributed by CNS; published by AP)

Feature Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students

Finalist: Database chronicles 400 years of Virginia House of Delegates – by Rosemarie O’Connor, Virginia Commonwealth University (Capital News Service; published by AP)

Magazines

Non-Fiction Magazine Article

Finalist: Virginia’s immigration court backlog among largest in nation – by Georgia Geen, Virginia Commonwealth University (Capital News Service; published by RVA Mag)

Finalist: Black women far more likely than whites to die giving birth – by Arianna Coghill and Kaytlin Nickens, Virginia Commonwealth University (Capital News Service; published by RVA Mag)

Art/Graphics

Breaking News Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students

Finalist: Westboro Baptist Church protest – by Alexandra Zernik, Virginia Commonwealth University (Capital News Service; published by RVA Mag)

 

Data Visualization

Winner: White supremacy movements spark rise in religion-based hate – by Saffeya Ahmed, Virginia Commonwealth University (Capital News Service; published by the Prince William Times)

Feature Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students

Winner: Jab jab: Tia Jablonsky fights to go pro in MMA competitions – by Ashley Sanchez, Virginia Commonwealth University (Photojournalism; distributed by CNS; published by RVA Mag)

 

Finalist: God’s Gouda: Sisters in Albemarle County make cheese – by Erin Edgerton, Virginia Commonwealth University (Photojournalism; distributed by CNS; published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Radio

Radio Feature

Winner: Richmond’s first women’s theatre festival puts female stories at center stage – by Evie King, Virginia Commonwealth University (Capital News Service; broadcast by WCVE / Virginia Public Media)

Radio News Reporting

Finalist: Counter-protestors drown out Westboro Baptist messages of hate – by Evie King, Virginia Commonwealth University (Capital News Service; broadcast by WCVE / Virginia Public Media)

Online

Online News Reporting

Winner: Rape cases in Virginia often go unsolved – by Anna Madigan, Virginia Commonwealth University (Data Journalism; distributed by CNS; published by NBC12)

Finalist: As vaping illnesses mount, officials warn of dangers of e-cigarettes – by Georgia Geen, Virginia Commonwealth University (Data Journalism; distributed by CNS; published by NBC12)

Finalist: Navy veteran recalls his encounter with D.C. snipers – by Georgia Geen and Pedro Coronado, Virginia Commonwealth University (Data Journalism; distributed by CNS; published by the Prince William Times)

Online Feature Reporting

Finalist: Skill-based slot machines put a touch of Las Vegas at the local bar – by Emily Holter and Benjamin West, Virginia Commonwealth University (Capital News Service; published by NBC12)

Finalist: Farms feed food banks to fight hunger – by Kathleen Shaw and Corrine Fizer, Virginia Commonwealth University (Capital News Service; published by WHSV)

Online In-Depth Reporting

Winner: Sex ed is key to reducing teen pregnancy, advocates say – by Hannah Eason and Emma North, Virginia Commonwealth University (Data Journalism; distributed by CNS; published by the Prince William Times)

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 2019.

The regional winners will advance to the national Mark of Excellence contest.

Overall, VCU students received 24 honors in the regional Mark of Excellence contest.

In the Television category, a newscast by VCU InSight, a program produced by the Robertson School and broadcast by WCVW-TV, was selected as Best All-Around Television News Magazine

Entries from VCU’s independent student media picked up six honors:

Newspapers

Sports Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students

Finalist: From Rice, to VCU, to the big dance, Rhoades and Evans make no excuses – by Noah Fleischman, Virginia Commonwealth University (The Commonwealth Times)

Editorial Writing

Finalist: Tagwa Shammet, Virginia Commonwealth University (The Commonwealth Times)

Magazines

Best Student Magazine

Finalist: Ink Magazine – by Staff of Ink Magazine, Virginia Commonwealth University

Art/Graphics

Breaking News Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students

Finalist: Richmond Virginia crowds celebrate Democrat win – by Jon Mirador, Virginia Commonwealth University (The Commonwealth Times)

Editorial Cartooning

Finalist: Sammy Newman, Virginia Commonwealth University (The Commonwealth Times)

General News Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students

Finalist: U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger urges people to get involved in political process – by Erin Edgerton, Virginia Commonwealth University (The Commonwealth Times)

"I'd like to give a special shout-out to our Spring 2019 Capital News Service Team with Professors Jeff South, who also had several winners with his Fall 2019 Data Journalism course, Alix Bryan and Brandon Shulleeta, our Spring 2019 VCU InSight Team with Professors Mallory Perryman, Gary Gillam and Angie Miles, as well as our Photojournalism instructor Julia Rendleman," said Messner. "They all invested considerable time and effort to assist their students with their award-winning work."