Rules/Eligibility
Categories2020 Honorees
Rules & EligibilityCategories2020 Honorees

2020 Mark of Excellence
National Winners and Finalists

Jump to:
Newspapers
Magazines
Art/Graphics
Radio
Television
Online
Videography
Video Game Reporting
Podcasts
Immersion Journalism
Collaborative Journalism
COVID-19


2020 Regional Winners and Finalists

Click on each region's number to read a press release that contains a complete list of winners and finalists from that region.

Region 1
Region 2
Region 3
Region 4
Region 5
Region 6
Region 7
Region 8
Region 9
Region 10
Region 11
Region 12

The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to announce the national winners of the 2020 Mark of Excellence Awards, recognizing collegiate work published or broadcasted during 2020.

The awards honor the best in student journalism. As such, judges were directed to choose only those entries which they felt were outstanding work worthy of a national honor. If the judges determined that none of the entries rose to the level of excellence, no award was given. Any category not listed has no winner.

School divisions are based on student enrollment, which includes both graduate and undergraduate enrollment. Schools with more than 10,000 students are designated as large schools.

National Mark of Excellence Award judges can choose up to one national winner in each category and two national finalists (runners-up).

Winners and finalists were previously recognized by receiving first-place in one of the SPJ’s 12 regional competitions. Each first-place regional winner advanced to the national competition.


Newspapers

Breaking News Reporting, Large School Division

National Winner

North complex fire
Chloe Curtis, Kimberly Morales and Matthew Wreden, Chico State

Read online: Link 1Link 2Link 3Link 4Link 5Link 6Link 7Link 8Link 9

National Finalist: “Democracy in darkness,” by Benjamin Wells, Natallie St. Onge, Marquette University
National Finalist: “Harvard, MIT sue immigration authorities,” by Michelle G. Kurilla, Camille G. Caldera, Harvard College


Breaking News Reporting, Small School Division

National Winner

Outgoing Loyola director under investigation at Arizona State
Rose Wagner, Loyola University New Orleans

Read online

National Finalist: “Administrator goes public with concerns about racism and sexism within UP administration,” by Gabi DiPaulo, University of Portland
National Finalist: “Cedarville University will finish semester online, commencement postponed,” by Tim Miller, Cedarville University


General News Reporting, Large School Division

National Winner

UMD workers union fights for improved COVID-19 protection
Angela Roberts, Clara Longo de Freitas, University of Maryland, College Park

Read online: Link 1Link 2Link 3Link 4Link 5

National Finalist: “Black on campus,” by Tritima Achigbu, David Silva Ramirez, University of Texas at Arlington
National Finalist: “Between 2 worlds: how Syracuse’s racist housing policies created a racial divide,” by Marnie Muñoz, Syracuse University


General News Reporting, Small School Division

National Winner

“I’m doing my part:” the grocery store workers on the front lines of the pandemic
Delaney Nelson, Northwestern University

Read online

National Finalist: “Elon University ranks #371 for social mobility,” by Grace Terry, Elon University


In-Depth Reporting, Large School Division

National Winner

The gun edition
Staff, Florida A&M University

Download [PDF]

National Finalist: “In Focus: Loopholes in federal lead law left 5th Ward in the dark about what is in its water,” by Kalen Luciano, Heena Srivastava, Northwestern University



In-Depth Reporting, Small School Division

National Winner

Trauma behind the curtain: allegations uncovered, investigation launched, professor leaves Rider
Stephen Neukam, Rider University

Read online

National Finalist: “An uphill battle: University of Puerto Rico students, professors respond to severe budget cuts,” by Carmen Honker, William & Mary
National Finalist: “Death and injustice in the borderlands,” by Julia Woock, Southwestern College


Feature Writing, Large School Division

National Winner

Milwaukee church protests racism through religion
Richa Karmarkar, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Read online

National Finalist: “Inside the conservative media outlet feeding Harvard students to Fox News,” by Malaika K. Tapper, Harvard College
National Finalist: “Transgender awareness,” by Staff, Colorado State University


Feature Writing, Small School Division

National Winner

Voices on racism
Kyra Steck, Northwestern University

Download [PDF]

National Finalist: “We never realize what we have until we have it no longer,” by Joey Fox, Rebecca Tauber, Williams College
National Finalist: “The fight doesn't stop here,” by Molly Korzenowski, Bethel University


Sports Writing, Large School Division

National Winner

Cosmo: An oral history of the viral dance
Elisa Huhem, Brigham Young University

Read online

National Finalist: “Raising Declan,” by Aidan Bea, Texas State University
National Finalist: “The ‘inescapable’ effect of off-campus athletics,” by Staff, Columbia University


Sports Writing, Small School Division

National Winner

Fighting forever
Emma Eidsvoog, Neha Goyal, Neelam Sidhani, Bethel University

Download [PDF]

National Finalist: “SC 1, Yankees 0,” by Andrew Sanchez, Southwestern College
National Finalist: “CU alumni qualify for Olympic marathon trials,” by Abigail Hintz, Cedarville University


Editorial Writing

National Winner

COVID-19 editorials
Zachariah Chou, University of Florida

Read online: Link 1Link 2Link 3

National Finalist: “Editorials,” by Editorial Board, Marquette University
National Finalist: “Staff editorials,” by Staff, Texas State University


General Column Writing, Large School Division

National Winner

Brammhi's Ballot
Brammhi Balarajan, Emory University

Read online: Link 1Link 2Link 3

National Finalist: “John Hyrdrisko columns,” by John Hydrisko, University of Mississippi
National Finalist: “Navdeep Bal,” by Navdeep Bal, University of California, Los Angeles


General Column Writing, Small School Division

National Winner

Opinion pieces
Alexander Prevost, Gonzaga University

Read online: Link 1Link 2Link 3

National Finalist: “McKenzie Ward, Framingham State University,” by McKenzie Ward, Framingham State University
National Finalist: “Abroad in South Korea during COVID-19,” by Claire Lee, Pepperdine University


Sports Column Writing

National Winner

Columns
Peter Warren, Northwestern University

Read online: Link 1Link 2Link 3

National Finalist: “Michael Vestey's columns,” by Michael Vestey, Miami University
National Finalist: “Football columns,” by Simon Gibbs, Vanderbilt University


Best All-Around Student Newspaper, Large School Division

National Winner

Columbia Daily Spectator
Staff, Columbia University

Download [PDF]

National Finalist: “Volume 51, Issue 16; Volume 51, Issue 19; Volume 51, Issue 22,” by Staff, Loyola University Chicago
National Finalist: “Best of the Collegian,” by Staff, Colorado State University


Best All-Around Student Newspaper, Small School Division

National Winner

Miscellany News, Pandemic Newsletters
Staff, Vassar College

Download [PDF]

National Finalist: “The Bethel Clarion,” by Molly Korzenowski, Emma Harville, Will Jacott, Emma Gottschalk, Bethel University
National Finalist: “The Pendulum,” by Staff, Elon University


[ Back to Top ]


Magazines

Best Student Magazine

National Winner

El Sol
Staff, Southwestern College

Read online

National Finalist: “PULSE magazine,” by Maddy Wilson, Sara Roach, Kassandra Eller, Spencer Clifton, Central Washington University
National Finalist: “Curb Pause,” by Staff, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Non-Fiction Magazine Article

National Winner

ài (爱) to love and ái (挨) to suffer
Erin Glynn, Miami University

Read online

National Finalist: “Thoughts, prayers & stem cells,” by Katherine Sypher, Anthony J. Wallace, Arizona State University
National Finalist: “Worn down by wellness,” by Elena DeBre, Yale University


[ Back to Top ]


Art/Graphics

Breaking News Photography, Large School Division

National Winner

Protest arrest
Katie Goodale, University of Iowa

National Finalist: “LAPD cruiser burns during Black Lives Matter protest,” by Yasamin Jafari-Tehrani, Santa Monica College
National Finalist: “Supporting Trump,” by Noah Riffe, The Pennsylvania State University


Breaking News Photography, Small School Division

National Winner

Chino Hills residents debate evacuating during fire
Jasmin Sani, Chapman University

National Finalist: “March for Action on Alden photo,” by Joe Arruda, Springfield College
National Finalist: “Nashville tornado damage,” by Mckenzi Harris, Lipscomb University


General News Photography, Large School Division

National Winner

Activist group marches through Arlington
Elias Valverde II, University of Texas at Arlington

Read online

National Finalist: “Bayview coalition demands justice for environmental racism,” by Harika Maddala, San Francisco State University
National Finalist: “Hugging with hope,” by Lucy Morantz, Colorado State University


General News Photography, Small School Division

National Winner

Police take a knee to show solidarity at peaceful protest
Ben Levitt, Mercer County Community College

Read online

National Finalist: “No more bruises,” by Zach Walker, Will Jacott, Hersh Singh, Emma Gottschalk, Bethel University
National Finalist: “Health science safety photo,” by Tony Reeves, University of Indianapolis


Feature Photography, Large School Division

National Winner

Capturing and documenting trauma in Panama
Nicole Neri, Arizona State University

Read online

National Finalist: “Illuminated dancers,” by Elias Valverde II, University of Texas at Arlington
National Finalist: “Hemp Harvest Festival buzzes with freedom,” by Emily Kenny, Syracuse University


Feature Photography, Small School Division

National Winner

Black Lives Matter: The digital mobilization of citizen journalists
Julia Navarro, Humboldt State University

Download [PDF]

National Finalist: “Behind the lens: Altering perspective,” by Alexander Johansen, Minnesota State University Moorhead
National Finalist: “University steps into Black History Month,” by Maegan Mendoza, Texas A&M University-San Antonio


Photo Illustration

National Winner

Wonderland
Sam Balmer, University of Missouri-Columbia

Read online

National Finalist: “A clear victory,” by Andy Caress, Virginia Commonwealth University
National Finalist: “Basketball season preview,” by David Onwukeme, University of Utah


Sports Photography, Large School Division

National Winner

FAU defeats UMass, finishing perfect at home under Willie Taggart’s inaugural season
Alex Liscio, Florida Atlantic University

National Finalist: “Men’s lacrosse grinds out second-half comeback for massive win in defensive showdown,” by Zoe Davis, Syracuse University
National Finalist: “Iowa-Ohio state wrestling,” by Shivansh Ahuja, University of Iowa


Sports Photography, Small School Division

National Winner

Sophomore forward Clay Gayman leaps over junior forward Gavin Kensmil for a layup
David Mitchell, Abilene Christian University


Data Visualization

National Winner

California propositions 2020
Sonia Hiew, Michael Goldsmith, Santa Monica College

National Finalist: “Colorado’s 2020 election explained in 9 graphs,” by Sam Ye, Colorado State University
National Finalist: “The Ivy League was late to respond to COVID-19. Data shows international universities did better,” by Staff, Columbia University


Editorial Cartooning

National Winner

Andrea Grigsby
Andrea Grigsby, University of California, Los Angeles

View online: Link 1Link 2Link 3

National Finalist: “Student proved,” by Derek Snyder, Oregon State University


[ Back to Top ]


Radio

Radio News Reporting

National Winner

Phoenix Area Restaurants Taking Advantage Of Outdoor Seating For Customers
Caitlynn McDaniel, Arizona State University

Listen online

National Finalist: “Buzi bus service,” by Alix Larson, Minnesota State University Moorhead
National Finalist: “Project Little Shell: Questioning blood quantum,” by Mary Auld, University of Montana


Radio Feature

Radio Feature

National Winner

Chess parlor sees an uptick in popularity after "The Queen’s Gambit"
Holly DeMuth, Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY

National Finalist: “When eviction court moved to Zoom, this attorney kept fighting for renters’ rights,” by Daisy Espinoza, University of Houston
National Finalist: “Swamp therapy' hikes aim to connect south Floridians to the Everglades,” by Maria Esquinca, University of Miami


Radio In-Depth Reporting

National Winner

Choose to refuse: Escaping the cycle of addiction
Nesrien Abdelkader, The American University in Cairo

National Finalist: “Explained: President Trump's election lawsuits,” by Angelina Campanile, Northwestern University
National Finalist: “Zoonotic diseases traced to illegal wildlife trade,” by Caitlynn McDaniel, Arizona State University


Radio Sports Reporting

National Winner

Pink Dragon Ladies
Gabriela Mercurio, University of Florida

National Finalist: “SU's fight for social justice,” by Jenna Fink, Syracuse University
National Finalist: “Gabe Trujillo, Spanish-speaking PBP voice of AZ Cardinals,” by Jonah Hrkal, Arizona State University


Best All-Around Radio Newscast

National Winner

Carolina Connection
Staff, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Listen online

National Finalist: “Trump's election lawsuits, Northwestern's budget surplus, and NU students count votes,” by Angelina Campanile, Helen Bradshaw, Alex Harrison, Olivia Lloyd, Northwestern University
National Finalist: “Newsline - January 30, 2020,” by Staff, Hofstra University


[ Back to Top ]


Television

Television Breaking News Reporting

National Winner

Press Bar and Parlor burns to the ground
Tony Langfellow, Saint Cloud State University

Watch online

National Finalist: “Trolley accident,” by Greg Bradbury, Syracuse University


Television General News Reporting

National Winner

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
Joe Freihofer, Michigan State University

Watch online

National Finalist: “Firefighter cancer,” by Dylan McKim, Arizona State University
National Finalist: “Five months after Hurricane Dorian at the Abaco Lodge,” by Payton Tysinger, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Television Feature Reporting

National Winner

Biden at SU
Ricky Sayer, Syracuse University

Watch online

National Finalist: “Virtual pow wow dancing,” by Jennifer Alvarez, Arizona State University
National Finalist: “Old school activism: A history of protest at Northwestern,” by Joey Maya Safchik, Northwestern University


Television In-Depth Reporting

National Winner

Dust-to-dust
Parker Thune, Ben Possehl, University of Oklahoma

Watch online

National Finalist: “Four Days, 5 Murders,” by Chris O'Brien, University of Florida
National Finalist: “COVID prisons,” by Katelyn Keenehan, Arizona State University


Television Sports Reporting

National Winner

Skating through adversity
Michael Gutnick, Arizona State University

Watch online

National Finalist: “A heart of a champion and the mind of a (ninja) warrior,” by Sydney Wicker, Colorado State University


Best All-Around Television News Magazine

National Winner

Routes TV — Oklahoma's mental health battle
Stingray Schuller, Aspen Endriss , University of Oklahoma

Watch online

National Finalist: “The forgotten city,” by Staff, University of Florida


Bests All-Around Television Newscast

National Winner

NewsVision
Jenna Weiss, Spencer Askinazy, Ben Ezzy, Tyler Walsh, University of Miami

Watch online

National Finalist: “Focal Point October 30th,” by Staff, Michigan State University
National Finalist: “Chapman News. March 6, 2020,” by Staff, Chapman University


[ Back to Top ]


Online

Online News Reporting

National Winner

Operation Agent Touch
Staff of Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, Arizona State University

Read online

National Finalist: “In a time when caring more is vital, the UW system chose to care less,” by Jodie Filenius, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
National Finalist: “BERT sit-in,” by Staff, University of Oklahoma


Online Feature Reporting

National Winner

The Candy Man can
Kailey Pickering, Colorado State University

Read online

National Finalist: “Rising waters,” by Staff, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
National Finalist: “Softening stigma,” by Emily Isaacman, Karli VanCleave, Mel Fronczek, Indiana University


Online In-Depth Reporting

National Winner

Panama — where the world waits at America’s door
Calah Schlabach, Nino Abdaladze, Daja Henry, Anthony J. Wallace, Arizona State University

Read online: Link 1Link 2Link 3Link 4

National Finalist: “High stakes: The risks and rewards of legalizing marijuana,” by Staff, Syracuse University
National Finalist: “The Red Flag Law as a means of suicide prevention,” by Anna Dunn, Colorado State University


Online Opinion and Commentary

National Winner

Forget about politics, why Black lives matter
Carmen Fanning, Fort Hays State University

Read online: Link 1Link 2Link 3

National Finalist: “A history of BSU’s demands: Repeating our university’s oppressive past,” by Opinion team, University of Washington - Seattle
National Finalist: “What a New Yorker in 2020 has in common with a sculptor during the Black Death,” by Liza Vandenboom, The King's College


Online Sports Reporting

National Winner

How sports culture undermines athletes long after they graduate
Madeleine Davison, Syracuse University

Read online

National Finalist: “A gridiron legacy uncovered: How Northwestern football players risked it all for racial equality,” by Lia Assimakopoulos, Northwestern University
National Finalist: “Lacrosse coach released from contract amid potential cuts to scholarships and roster spots of five players,” by Spencer Nusbaum, American University


Best Use of Multimedia

National Winner

Five years after SAE
Paxson Haws, University of Oklahoma

Read online

National Finalist: “As Juneteenth approached, students across the country protested racism and police brutality,” by The Eagle, American University
National Finalist: “Who we are: Finding home,” by Staff, USC Annenberg


Best Affiliated Web Site

National Winner

Curb Pause
Staff , University of Wisconsin-Madison

Visit website: Link 1Link 2Link 3

National Finalist: “redandblack.com,” by Staff, University of Georgia
National Finalist: “Elon News Network,” by Staff, Elon University


Best Independent Online Student Publication

National Winner

JOVRNALISM
Staff, USC Annenberg

View project

National Finalist: “Talisman Website,” by Website Staff, Western Kentucky University
National Finalist: “The 61% Project,” by Staff, Syracuse University


[ Back to Top ]


Videography

Broadcast News Videography

National Winner

Door to disaster
Joseline Donoso, University of Florida

Watch online

National Finalist: “They've been waiting for this day,” by Ian Gilmour, Michigan State University
National Finalist: “The essential workers of the Coachella Valley,” by Edwin Flores, California State University Fullerton


Broadcast Feature Videography

National Winner

Beyond the finish line
Victor Prieto, University of Florida

Watch online

National Finalist: “Virtual pow wow dancing,” by Jennifer Alvarez, Arizona State University
National Finalist: “A sound to soldier on,” by Mikayla Temple, Michigan State University


Broadcast Sports Videography

National Winner

All you need is a set of wheels... And one of these.
Joe Freihofer, Michigan State University

Watch online

National Finalist: “Project Dad',” by Julianna D'Urzo, Lindsay Eastwood, Peyton Smith, Syracuse University
National Finalist: “Saints weather the storms,” by Victor Prieto, University of Florida


Online/Digital News Videography

National Winner

Where are the students? An enrollment investigation
Quinn Corcoran, University of Montana

Watch online

National Finalist: “Black at Kent State,” by Staff, Kent State University
National Finalist: “SF State student stuck in Ghana,” by David Sjostedt, San Francisco State University


Online/Digital Sports Videography

National Winner

Chasing the dragon
Cole Strong, Syracuse University

Watch online

National Finalist: “Maggie Nichols: Courageous,” by Will Conover, University of Oklahoma
National Finalist: “San Jose State University football team comes to Humboldt,” by Dakota Cox, Skylar Gaven, Thomas Lal, Humboldt State University


Online/Digital Feature Videography

National Winner

Meat for the mind
Jiakai Lou, University of Montana

Watch online

National Finalist: “Victoria's Foil,” by Brett Forrest, Brian Ryu, Columbia University


Video Game Reporting

Video Game Reporting

National Winner

Why many disabled players call The Last of Us Part II the most accessible videogame yet
Joseph Stanichar, Ohio University

Read online

National Finalist: “Arizona Smash community faces challenge during pandemic,” by Connor Van Ligten, Arizona State
National Finalist: “Gamers ditch discs,” by Kaden Anderson, Utah State University


Podcasts

Podcasts

National Winner

Intractable: The rat problem
Peter Senzamici, Theresa Gaffney, Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY

Listen online

National Finalist: “Real College Podcast- Protest special episode,” by Tosin Faseemo, Casey McCabe, John Kueppers, Zoe Challenger, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
National Finalist: “DACAmented,” by Brianna Estrada, Christine D. Insigne, Arianna Rodriguez, University of La Verne


Immersion Journalism

Immersion Journalism

National Winner

Who we are: Finding home
Staff, USC Annenberg

View project

National Finalist: “Tour Cornell's research facility where New York's hemp industry takes root,” by Sonny Cirasuolo, Amanda Paule, Syracuse University


[ Back to Top ]


All Platforms

Collaborative Journalism

National Winner

Border War Rivals
Staff, Colorado State University

Read online

National Finalist: “The Xpress 2020 California Ballot Measure Voting Guide,” by Staff, San Francisco State University


[ Back to Top ]


COVID-19

COVID-19: Digital (Still) Photography, Large School Division

National Winner

Limbo: Alone together
Jessica Strange, University of North Texas

Read online

National Finalist: “Caring for Mr. Frantz,” by Lexi Elder, The Pennsylvania State University
National Finalist: “Photo Gallery: COVID-19 vaccine reaches the frontlines in the High Country,” by Jesse Barber, Appalachian State University


COVID-19: Digital (Still) Photography, Small School Division

National Winner

Off the clock during COVID-19
Victoria Martinez, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Read online


COVID-19: Newspaper, Magazine and Online Coverage, Large School Division

National Winner

Quarantine and Coronavirus in Montana's Indian Country
Staff, University of Montana

Read online: Link 1Link 2Link 3Link 4

National Finalist: “Coronavirus devastates Oxford businesses, city proposes stimulus program,” by Ceili Doyle, Miami University
National Finalist: “Limbo: Pandemic Perspectives,” by Mayborn Photojournalists, University of North Texas


COVID-19: Newspaper, Magazine and Online Coverage, Small School Division

National Winner

COVID-19 university and border closures leave international students in confusing situations
Merlina San Nicolás Leyva, Kayla Drake and Matt Hampton, Lindenwood University

Read online

National Finalist: “Isolated and misinformed: My aftermath regarding Coronavirus,” by Luis Joel Méndez González, University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo


COVID-19: Video Coverage, Large School Division

National Winner

Coronavirus pandemia mundial (Coronavirus global pandemic)
Staff, California State University Fullerton

Watch online

National Finalist: “Dancing through Covid,” by Katherine Tipton, University of Oklahoma
National Finalist: “COVID vs a college town,” by Staff, University of Florida


COVID-19: Video Coverage, Small School Division

National Winner

Campus quarantine
Micah Kennedy, Lipscomb University

Watch online

National Finalist: “COVID and tourism,” by Colette Ngo, Chapman University
National Finalist: “Coronavirus on the Hilltop,” by Lauren Rangel, Southern Methodist University


[ Back to Top ]