The Society of Professional Journalists recognized the 2014 annual Mark of Excellence award winners from Region 12, which all took place Saturday in Lake Charles at McNeese State University.
This journalism competition recognizes students for exceptional work in several areas and across platforms. The contest names a winner and one or two finalists instead of awarding traditional first, second and third places.
Nobel Michael was the winner in editorial cartooning. Michael, a senior mass communication major from Lancaster, California, was also a finalist for his “Nobeezy” cartoons.
“It’s an honor to win another award in journalism,” said Michael. “I don’t individually win awards so it feels good to be appreciated for the things you put hard work into.”
Tierra Smith, a senior from Houston, won top spot for in-depth reporting for “Uncertain future,” a story about Grambling laboratory schools potentially closing. She also was a finalist in the same category for another story called “Contract stipulations could stop Warrick.”
“This award is different from others because it took a lot of research, long nights and several rewrites,” said Smith. “But, I am elated that my hard work is recognized.”
Smith, the editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper The Gramblinite, was chosen as a finalist in general news reporting as well.
Katrina Harris, The Gramblinite photo editor, was named a finalist in two categories, sports photography and feature photography.
Another finalist was DeQuanna Alexander, a junior from New Orleans, in general column writing.
The biggest sweep for the paper was in the sports writing category, where all of the winners were GSU students. Diana Sepulveda, a graduate student from Houston, came out the top dog with a story called “A passing pioneer,” a story about GSU and NFL quarterback James “Shack” Harris.
The finalists in the category were Smith and Kassandra Merritt, Gramblinite sports editor, who is a junior from Montgomery, Alabama.
Wanda L. Peters, the faculty adviser of The Gramblinite, said she is elated with the awards.
“People not in this field don’t realize how much work it takes to produce what we do, so it is always gratifying when students’ hard work is honored.
“All of the students who won awards are all so busy and involved in other areas, it’s a wonder that they have time to produce such good work,” Peters said.
The SPJ Region 12 consists of schools from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. The winners will move on to the national Mark of Excellence competition.
The national winners will be announced at the Excellence in Journalism 2015 Conference, which will be held in September in Orlando, Florida.
Entrees are judged by professionals with at least three years of experience. There are two levels in the college competition, one for large schools, which have at least 10,000 students, and small schools, which has a maximum enrollment not to exceed 9,999.