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SPJ and ACP launch weekly award for college journalists covering COVID-19


Patricia Gallagher Newberry, SPJ National President, 513-702-4065, pattinewberryspj@gmail.com
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – Two of the nation’s largest and oldest journalism organizations – founded shortly before and after the nation’s influenza pandemic a century ago – are joining forces to recognize college journalists covering the COVID-19 pandemic right now.

The Society of Professional Journalists and the Associated Collegiate Press announced today that they are co-sponsoring a distinctive weekly awards program for all college students whose coverage of COVID-19 appears in student-run media, in professional publications or in publicly shared classroom projects.

They’re called The CCC Awards, short for “College Coronavirus Coverage.” Entering is free, and a rotating slate of judges – all professional journalists – will choose winners and finalists by noon each Monday until the pandemic has passed.

Winners receive a free year of SPJ membership, and their work will be touted on SPJ’s and ACP’s social media – a reach of more than 140,000 followers.

“SPJ is doing all it can to help professional journalists face the double pressure of covering this health crisis while caring for their own families,” says SPJ National President Patricia Gallagher Newberry, area coordinator of the journalism program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. “But college journalists face a triple whammy: They also need to attend online classes. And those are still being figured out on the fly.”

With college journalists studying and working from home, they can quickly feel isolated because they aren’t collaborating with peers in the newsroom. The CCC Awards are one small way to counter that, says ACP executive Director Laura Widmer.

“We know college journalists are doing exceptional work while being kept out of their newsrooms,” Widmer says. “This award will recognize the great coverage student journalists are providing weekly to their audiences during this tumultuous time. ACP is excited to be teaming with SPJ for these awards."

The CCC Awards are being managed by SPJ’s Awards Committee, and its chair, Sue Kopen Katcef, says an open-ended weekly contest is a first for both venerable organizations.

“We’ve never done this before, but then again, no one living has been through anything like this before,” says Kopen Katcef, who is covering COVID-19 as a journalist and recently retired as an instructor at the University of Maryland's Merrill College of Journalism. “SPJ and ACP have been bedrocks for journalism, but our world was changing even before COVID-19. This is a chance for us to learn how to be more nimble even after the crisis is over.”

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