Grambling State University’s campus newspaper, The Gramblinite, received seven first place awards, including first place for Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper.
It is the second best-newspaper award in the Society of Professional Journalists Region 12 Mark of Excellence Awards contest and follows a best newspaper award by the Black College Communications Association earlier this year. The SPJ awards were presented at a weekend conference in Arkansas.
“The variety of awards The Gramblinite won – hard news, feature stories, sports writing, editorial cartooning, and sports and feature photography – illustrates that the well-rounded curriculum the (mass communication) department offers is benefiting our students,” said Wanda Peters, the newspaper’s adviser. “The staff puts in some grueling hours, and it’s wonderful to have their hard work recognized… . I am so proud of them.”
One Gramblinite senior editor, Tierra Smith, won three first place awards. She won the small newspaper category for breaking news reporting for a story titled “Moving Forward,” a piece about the early fall departure of GSU’s head football coach, Doug Williams, and the football team’s efforts to move forward with the season.
In the general news reporting category for small newspapers, Smith won for a story headlined “Cracking Down,” a story about the city of Grambling’s ordinance prohibiting sagging pants and its possible effects on Grambling State University students.
Smith’s third first place win was in the sports writing category for a story entitled “GSU hit with ‘completely unacceptable’ fine,” a story about the university’s reactions to the penalties from Jackson State University and Southwestern Athletic Conference after GSU’s football team skipped a JSU homecoming game.
Smith, 21, of Houston, is a junior mass communication major with a concentration in sports journalism.
Grambling State University 2013 graduate Justin Madden, 23, the former editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, won first place in the small newspaper feature writing category for “The life and times of Charles Fenton,” a piece about the struggles of a white man attempting to help black students integrate an all-white school in northern Louisiana in the 1960s.
“Winning these awards shows that we take pride in our work,” said Madden, who wrote the story while editor of The Gramblinite. Madden, a breaking news reporter with McClatchy’s Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky, added, “We do the research necessary to find good stories and write about individuals and topics that hold historical merit, (telling) the story of our university and the people.”
Tyrie Goodman, 22, a senior photographer from Houston, won first place in sports photography for a photo of GSU running back Jeremy Runner. Nobel Michael, 20, a junior cartoonist from Lancaster, Calif., won first place in Editorial Cartooning. Goodman and Michael are mass communication majors with concentrations in broadcasting.
Two other members of the Gramblinite staff were finalists for awards, meaning they finished in the top three. Photo editor Katrina Harris was a finalist for feature photography, and senior editor Diana Sepulveda was a finalist in feature writing, sports writing and breaking news reporting.
“To hear about these awards bring me so much joy,” said Madden, talking about his former campus newspaper colleagues.
“They have allowed themselves to grow as journalists and are able to compete against others. I expect the campus newspaper to continue their winning tradition, especially when writing stories that matter.”
The Region 12 SPJ spring conference was held in Fayetteville, Ark., last weekend.
The first place winners will move on to the national Mark of Excellence competition with category winners from all SPJ regions. National winners will be notified in late spring and will be recognized at the Excellence in Journalism 2014 conference in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 4-6.
SPJ is divided into regions of the United States. The Gramblinite competed in SPJ’s Region 12, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.