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Announcing the 2021 Sigma Delta Chi Awards, MOEy and Corbin Gwaltney 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 proud to recognize recipients of the 2021 Sigma Delta Chi Awards, honoring outstanding professional journalism produced last year.

Winners were announced tonight during a virtual awards ceremony hosted by ABC News Correspondent Stephanie Ramos. The video is archived on SPJ’s YouTube channel.

Award winners were announced by George Bodarky, community partnerships and training editor at WNYC Public Radio and Robin Shannon, news director for WFUV Public Radio. SPJ National President Rebecca Aguilar and SPJ Foundation President Irwin Gratz announced the winners of the top student awards.

Prominent veteran journalists, who served as SDX Awards judges, selected 74 official winners from 1,413 entries. Dozens of local and national news organizations from print, TV, radio and online received SDX Awards, including Bloomberg News, The New York Times, NBC, Los Angeles Times, CBS, ProPublica, Time, ABC, Univision, NPR, The Washington Post, Noticias Telemundo, KSLA News, The Kansas City Star, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe, Univision, King 5 TV, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Searchlight New Mexico, WXYZ-TV and many more.

“Challenges continue in finding ways to keep the critical and vital lifeline of local news sustainable,” Ramos said in her remarks. “We dealt with disinformation campaigns and efforts to restrict a free press while some tried to devalue the press. We fight to build greater public trust in media through our commitment to SPJ’s Code of Ethics, but much work remains. Needless to say, we’ve got many challenges in front of us, but tonight we pay tribute to those who gave us so much evidence of what journalism is doing well.”

Sigma Delta Chi Awards categories include breaking news, investigative reporting, features, documentaries, editorials and photography and more. This year, new categories were added, including Spanish-language media, food and restaurant reporting, cultural criticism, environment and climate reporting and travel reporting. A second podcasting category was also added.

In addition to the professional SDX awards, the announcement also celebrated student journalism. The MOEy best in show award recognizes the best student journalism in the country and is given to the top entry among all national Mark of Excellence award winners.

“We had over 3,000 [MOE] entries this year and recognized hundreds of winners at the regional level and dozens who won national honors for their categories. From all of these, we’ve identified the one that stood above the rest to honor with this year’s MOEy,” Gratz said.

This year’s MOEy winner is the Visualizing 81 staff at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. “Their work on the impact highway planning has on communities of color inspired the judges to comment that this was a strong story, and the telling included fantastic use of interactive components, archival material and other multiplatform elements – even mini-podcasting and 360 technology,” Gratz said.

This year also marked the first winners of the Corbin Gwaltney Awards for Best All-Around Student Newspapers. The award is named after Corbin Gwaltney, founder of The Chronicle of Higher Education. He was a media innovator who built the Chronicle to be the most respected publication in higher education. There is one award in the large division (10,000+ students) and one in the small division (1-9,999 students). Each winner receives a $5,000 prize, provided by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This year’s large division winner is The Southwestern College Sun of Chula Vista, California. The staff’s work is eye-catching and immediately draws readers in, judges said. The small division winner is The Maroon of Loyola University in New Orleans, for its strong stories, captivating headlines and incredible graphics.
Sigma Delta Chi was created as a student organization in 1909 and eventually grew to become SPJ, the longest-serving and most broad-journalism organization in the United States. SPJ continues to honor its history by retaining the original Greek letters in the awards presented.

“Improving, celebrating and protecting journalism are key to SPJ,” Aguilar said. “We are champions for journalists, fighters for the First Amendment, stewards of ethical journalism and producers of journalism’s future. We advocate for journalists across the country who have remained dedicated to covering their communities every single day.”

All SDX winners are listed and have their work displayed on the SPJ website.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.

The SPJ Foundation is a public foundation dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. The SPJ Foundation supports educational and professional needs of journalists and journalism students. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Give to the SPJ Foundation.


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