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SPJ announces 2021 Mark of Excellence National Winners


Lou Harry, SPJ Manager of Publications and Awards, 317-920-4786, lharry@spj.org
Michelle Lagos, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-927-8000, mlagos@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to announce the national winners of the 2021 Mark of Excellence Awards, recognizing collegiate work published or broadcast during 2021.

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 Awards 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 SPJ’s 12 regional competitions. The results of those competitions can be found in the April 2022 SPJ News archive. Each first-place regional winner advanced to the national competition.

The MOEy best in show award and two Corbin Gwaltney Awards for Best All-Around Student Newspaper, will be presented during the Sigma Delta Chi awards ceremony at 8 p.m. EDT Thursday. This event, which is once again virtual, may be viewed on SPJ's YouTube channel. This is the first year for the Gwaltney Award, named for the co-founder of The Chronicle of Higher Education and founder of The Chronicle of Philanthropy.


Breaking News Reporting (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: ‘Infamy is just as good as fame': UK student among crowd that mobbed Capitol building - by Natalie Parks, University of Kentucky
Finalist: Chauvin verdict inspires cheers, tears in downtown Minneapolis - by Mia Laube, Emily Haugen, Angeline Terry, University of St. Thomas
Finalist: Police served multiple warrants against FIJI and its members last year, court records show - by Caleb McCullough, University of Iowa

Breaking News Reporting (Small) 1-9,999 Students
Winner: Massive power outage forces cancellation of classes and operations for a second day - by William Seekamp, Havi Stewart, Andrew Gotshall, Molly Lowney, University of Portland

General News Reporting (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: Mine spill of 2014 continues to devastate Sonoran communities years later by - Clara Migoya, University of Arizona

General News Reporting (Small) 1-9,999 Students
Winner: Deconstructing the police narrative - by Devin Yingling, Saint Joseph's University
Finalist: Black Student Coalition demands renaming of buildings named after enslaver, eugenicist - by The Collegian staff, University of Richmond

In-Depth Reporting (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: Little victims everywhere - by investigative team, Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Finalist: US deems migrant seafood workers ‘essential’ but limits their COVID-19 protections - by Howard Center for Investigative Journalism and Capital News Service staff, University of Maryland
Finalist: Tulsa Race Massacre centennial - by The Oklahoma Daily staff, University of Oklahoma

In-Depth Reporting (Small) 1-9,999 Students
Winner: Rohingya diaspora in the U.S. - by Imran Mohammad Fazal Hoque, Harry S. Truman College
Finalist: “This will change us”: Swarthmore considers upscale condo proposal in downtown - by Owen Mortner, Swarthmore College
Finalist: Marijuana charges hold past offenders back from future opportunities - by Artie Bennett, Jabez Berniard, Loyola University New Orleans

Feature Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: 24 hours with the Robert Anderson survivor protesters outside Schlissel’s house - by The Michigan Daily staff, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Finalist: Saving the planet one sniff at a time - by Jessica Gatzow, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Finalist: ‘Does god hate?’: 2SLGBTQ+ individuals seek affirmation, face religious condemnation - by Jillian Taylor, University of Oklahoma

Feature Writing (Small) 1-9,999 Students
Winner: Ronald Crutcher reflects on the Westham Burying Ground - by Morgan Howland, University of Richmond
Finalist: A Crowd, a question and a typewriter - by Katia Faroun, Duquesne University
Finalist: Yuri Hernandez Osorio: Past and Present - by Will Mulligan, University of Portland

Sports Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: Last chance Yuma: Thriving Arizona Western soccer program bonds a community - by Amiliano Fragoso, Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Finalist: Former Florida women’s basketball players detail abuse under Coach Newbauer - by Zachary Huber, University of Florida
Finalist: Beauty vs. body: MSU's female student-athletes share body image struggles - by Jayna Bardahl, Michigan State University

Sports Writing (Small) 1-9,999 Students
Winner: Before Jackie Robinson, there was Thomas Harding - by Drew Favakeh, Butler University

Editorial Writing
Winner: Editorials - by Kentucky Kernal staff, University of Kentucky
Finalist: The Daily Free Press - by The Daily Free Press staff, Boston University
Finalist: Editorials - by The Emory Wheel editorial board, Emory University

General Column Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: Columns - by Zeniya Cooley, George Washington University
Finalist: Dear cable news, Leaving Afghanistan was the right choice; Free Steven Donziger; Taxing the rich - by Erik Uebelacker, DePaul University
Finalist: Title IX enforcement - by Claire Sullivan, Louisiana State University

General Column Writing (Small) 1-9,999 Students
Winner: The Lehigh-LGBTQ+ experience - by Alana Bonfiglio, Lehigh University

Best Student Magazine
Winner: The New Journal - by staff, Yale University
Finalist: Amendment Literary and Art Journal - by staff, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Ball Bearings Magazine - by staff, Ball State University

Sports Column Writing
Winner: Columns - by Marquette Tribune editorial board, Marquette University
Finalist: Columns - by Michael Vestey, Miami University
Finalist: Sports columns - by Jackson Payne, Brigham Young University

Best Use of Multimedia
Winner: Indignity in death - by Matt Cohen, Mallorey Daunhauer, Carson Terbush, Indiana University
Finalist: Visualizing 81 - by Visualizing 81 staff, Syracuse University

Best Affiliated Website
Winner: The Harvard Crimson - by staff, Harvard College
Finalist: The Appalachian website - by staff, Appalachian State University
Finalist: northbynorthwestern.com - by staff, Northwestern University

Best Independent Online Student Publication
Winner: The State Press - by staff, Arizona State University
Finalist: Upstate Unearthed - by staff, Syracuse University
Finalist: Native News - by staff, University of Montana

Best All-Around Student Newspaper (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: The Southwestern College Sun - by staff, Southwestern College
Finalist: The Emory Wheel - by staff, Emory University
Finalist: The Argonaut - by staff, University of Idaho

Best All-Around Student Newspaper (Small) 1-9,999 Students
Winner: The Maroon - by staff, Loyola University New Orleans
Finalist: The Ithacan - by staff, Ithaca College
Finalist: The Graphic - by staff, Pepperdine University


Breaking News Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: Racial reckoning - by TJ Shaw, Syracuse University
Finalist: Walking out - by Dominick Sokotoff, University of Michigan
Finalist: Confrontation - by HG Biggs, University of Mississippi

Breaking News Photography (Small) 1-9,999 Students
Winner: Drive by shooting near campus - by Lily Kaneshige, Gonzaga University

General News Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: Galbreath protest - by Antonio Ibarra, University of Montana
Finalist: Candlelight vigil - by Gavin Liddell, Syracuse University
Finalist: Indianapolis mourns FedEx shooting victims - by Alex Deryn, Indiana University

General News Photography (Small) 1-9,999 Students
Winner: ‘Get it right the first time, that was a hate crime' - by Mitchell Shields, Saint Joseph's University

Feature Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: The hardest job she’ll ever love - by Allie Hendricks, Western Kentucky University
Finalist: Excited for the show, Tri Duong, Colorado State University
Finalist: The drag show must go on: 4Some Revue adjusts to performing during pandemic - by Alina Nelson, Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Feature Photography (Small) 1-9,999 Students
Winner: Beauty in business: Student-owned lash business offers affordable services to community - by Evan Bates, Appalachian State University
Finalist: It's snow time - by Mitchell Shields, Saint Joseph's University
Finalist: Pilgrimage Festival - by Hannah Cron, Lipscomb University

Photo Illustration (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: Inside on the outside - by Jacob Moscovitch, University of Missouri, Missouri School of Journalism

Sports Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: Men’s soccer: CSUN extends losing streak to 7 games - by Chris Torres, California State University, Northridge
Finalist: Catch at third - by Trevor Cockburn, James Madison University
Finalist: Big 12 Championship tackle - by Josh Wilson, Baylor University

Sports Photography (Small) 1-9,999 Students
Winner: Men's team celebrates with fans - by Ryan Reynolds, University of Portland
Finalist: Teams still on the field even as semester ends - by Alessandro Rivero, Mercer County Community College
Finalist: UNCP Women's Basketball - by Andrew Thrift, University of North Carolina Pembroke

Data Visualization
Winner: International students struggle to learn across time zones as COVID-19 keeps them out of New York - by Jun Yi Zhang, Melissa Wang, Jessica Li, Michelle Xu, Columbia University
Finalist: Initiatives take on the challenge of cleaning the Baltimore Harbor, but problems run deep - by James Hartner, Taneen Momeni, The University of Maryland
Finalist: VSG Senate pass/fail survey results - by Emery Little, Vanderbilt University

Editorial Cartooning
Winner: Cartoons - by Reed Steiner, Arizona State University
Finalist: Commonwealth Times cartoons - by Lauren Johnson, Virginia Commonwealth University
Finalist: Cartoons - by Cristina del Coro Trio, University of Texas at Arlington


Radio News Reporting
Winner: Campus cooks in decline - by Angelina Campanile, Northwestern University
Finalist: Our poisoned kids - by Sydney Gold, Syracuse University
Finalist: For people with eating disorders, the pandemic is ‘almost tailor made’ for relapses - by Charlotte Ix, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Radio Feature
Winner: Arizona’s RUF Nation puts Indigenous roots on display through combat athletics - by David Montoya, Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Finalist: Kayak paddle to save the ecosystem - by Olivia Bensimon, Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY
Finalist: A conversation with Alabama Noir contributor Kirk Curnutt - by Baylen Parker, Troy University

Radio In-Depth Reporting
Winner: Challenging Roe v. Wade: Breaking down today’s abortion debate - by Angelina Campanile, Northwestern University
Finalist: Health care proxies in the time of COVID - by Yessenia Moreno, Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY
Finalist: Pinal County farmer struggles to grow crops with less water - by Emma VandenEinde, Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Radio Sports Reporting
Winner: Athlete mental health - by Matt Yeazel, Marquette University
Finalist: Roy Williams retires as UNC men’s basketball coach, saying he’s no longer ‘the right man for the job’ - by Ben Rappaport, Ava Pukatch, Zach Engler, Aurora Charlow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: ‘You’re it!’ Local parkour athlete plays, commentates competitive tag - by David Payne, Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Best All-Around Radio Newscast
Winner: “Carolina Connection” - by staff, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Finalist: “Ithaca Now” - by staff, Ithaca College

Winner: “Destination: Greenwood” - by Beth Wallis, University of Oklahoma
Finalist: “Offbeat” - by staff, University of Maryland
Finalist: “No Wiindigo economy”: Student activism and the fight for fossil fuel divestment - by staff, Northwestern University


Television Breaking News Reporting
Winner: Protesting Polisky - by Joey Safchik, Andrew Rowan, Northwestern University

Television General News Reporting
Winner: Water pipeline - by Katelyn Keenehan, ASU Cronkite School of Journalism
Finalist: Surfs up, surf pups! Annual dog surfing competition returns to Huntington Beach - by Sophia Giordano, Emerson College
Finalist: Rittenhouse trial verdict divides community - by Grayson Sewell, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Television Feature Reporting
Winner: Never say never - by Chris O'Brien, University of Florida
Finalist: Safe at Home - smiling through the pain - by Preston Shoemaker, Penn State University
Finalist: Glassblower - by Tim Littau, Manuel Gonzalez Barreto, Marquette University

Television In-Depth Reporting
Winner: Weathering the storm - by Weathering the Storm staff, University of Montana
Finalist: Throwing Up the Hand U - by Derryl Barnes, Gianna Sanchez, University of Miami
Finalist: Chinese scholar controversy - by Andrew Fancher, University of North Texas

Television Sports Reporting
Winner: SIV strong - by Nicholas Moreano, DePaul University
Finalist: “The Dopest Dude” on Penn State’s basketball team - by Zach Gershman, Penn State University
Finalist: Trash car racing - by Sarah Murphy, Utah State University

Best All-Around Television News Magazine
Winner: “Our America” - by staff, California State University, Fullerton
Finalist: “ViewFinder” - by staff, The University of Maryland
Finalist: “Hotty Toddy News” - by staff, University of Mississippi

Best All-Around Television Newscast
“NewsVision” - by staff, University of Miami
Finalist: “Centre County Report” - by Hope Burley, Connor Griffin, Isabel Hayes, Kyle Cannillo, Penn State University
Finalist: “IU NewsNet” - by staff, Indiana University


Broadcast/Online News Videography
Winner: Special Delivery from Atlantic Terminal Squad - by Anthony Ruiz, City College of New York
Finalist: John and Esteban - by Ryan Adams, Jenna Galligan, University of Iowa
Finalist: Navajo Nation clings for survival - by Brenda Elizondo, California State University Fullerton

Broadcast/Online Feature Videography
Winner: Urban farming - by Kelly Krabill, Kent State University
Finalist: How Chicago lost its commercial fishing industry - by Jacob Ohara, Northwestern University
Finalist: Uncertain waters - by Hazel Cramer, University of Montana

Broadcast/Online Sports Videography
Winner: Rush: Jackson He - by Drake Presto, Arizona State University
Finalist: The Comeback Year - by Annie Boos, Syracuse University

All Platforms

Art/Fashion Journalism
Winner: The people behind the instruments - by Irina Matchavariani, Missouri School of Journalism
Finalist: Wear Me This - by Sujena Soumyanath, Boston University
Finalist: Supporting Style - by Allysann Jackson, Southern Methodist University

Collaborative Journalism
Winner: Covid reportage in Arkansas - by Mary Hennigan, Abby Zimmardi, Rachell Sanchez-Smith, University of Arkansas
Finalist: Illinois divided - by Daily Northwestern staff, Northwestern University

Cultural Criticism
Winner: Why do we crave creepy shows?; Bridgerton challenges racial expectations; Little Free Libraries - by Kayla Jannetti, Mercer County Community College
Finalist: 14 Beats - by Aneesah Shealey, DePaul University
Finalist: Film and Television Critique - by Megan Fisher, Luke Jackson, University of Utah

Food/Restaurant Journalism
Winner: Tlaloc brings Mexican authenticity, family tradition to Athens community - by Nava Rawls, University of Georgia
Finalist: Restaurant staffing issues - by Will Sleddins, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Immersion Journalism
Winner: Visualizing 81 - by Visualizing 81 staff, Syracuse University

Video Game Reporting
Winner: Meet the all-womxn speedrunners of Fleet Fatales - by Joseph Stanichar, Ohio University
Finalist: UTA varsity Smash Bros. team wins first championship - by Cole Kembel, University of Texas at Arlington
Finalist: Keep chasing bonfires - by Austin De Dios, University of Portland

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