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b2ap3_thumbnail_yellow_jacket_logo2.jpgWaynesburg University’s student-produced newspaper, The Yellow Jacket, recently earned nine awards from two prestigious journalism organizations, the highest number of awards the newspaper has accrued in a single year.

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), a national organization of journalists, named the Waynesburg newspaper as a finalist in four different categories for a total of five awards, and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA) announced three first place awards and an honorable mention for the newspaper staff.

The SPJ Mark of Excellence competition divides entrants into small schools (1-9,999 students) and large schools (10,000+ students) for some categories. For the year 2015, members of the Yellow Jacket staff are finalists in the following categories: Jacob Meyer in Feature Writing (Small), Sports Writing (Small), and General News (Small); Tim Neral in Non-Fiction Magazine Writing; and Nika Anschuetz in General News (Small).

“Being named a finalist for the SPJ awards tells us that the students took no worse than what is essentially third place in our four-state region, which is a huge honor,” said Brandon Szuminsky, faculty adviser for The Yellow Jacket.

The finalists for these awards were selected from among entrants across SPJ Region 4, which includes Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. A group of students will travel in April to the SPJ Region 4 and 5 Spring Conference in Cincinnati to learn how the newspaper placed. First-place winners in each category will move on to the national SPJ competition.

“We’ve never been selected for five Mark of Excellence awards before, and I’m honored to lead the staff that accomplished it,” said Kimmi Baston, executive editor of The Yellow Jacket. “The Mark of Excellence Awards are prestigious accolades, so I’m thrilled that Waynesburg is represented so heavily among the winners.”

SPJ presents the Mark of Excellence Awards annually, honoring the best in student journalism. The awards offer categories for print, radio, television and online collegiate journalism.

In addition to collecting five Mark of Excellence Awards, The Yellow Jacket received four Student Keystone Press awards from the PNA in Division II, which includes four-year colleges and universities with enrollment under 10,000.

In the Ongoing News Coverage category, The Yellow Jacket won first place for a series entitled “University bans off-campus living,” by Rebecca Burcham, Rob Longo and Jacob Meyer, and received an honorable mention for “Mather Mine: The forgotten tragedy,” by Chelsea Dicks. The series “University bans off-campus living” also won first place for Public Service/Enterprise Package. In the Sports Story category, Meyer won first place for his feature article “The hardest thing imaginable.”

“To bring in three first place awards after being compared to schools across the state is truly a testament to the incredible amount of work our writers put into each and every piece,” said Baston. “I was proud of each of these stories when we published them in 2015, and I’m incredibly proud and excited that the PNA recognized the exceptional work of the students who wrote them.”

The Student Keystone Press Awards contest recognizes high school and college journalism that provides relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers.
“While The Yellow Jacket staff has a long list of awards, this is the most awards we’ve ever won in a single academic year. Last year we were pretty happy to win five awards between SPJ and PNA, so to win nine this year has us ecstatic,” said Szuminsky. “These awards are confirmation that students are doing great work and are getting a high-quality journalism education at Waynesburg that will prepare them for their future careers.”

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Ashley Wise, Assistant Director of University Relations

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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Waynesburg University’s student newspaper, the Yellow Jacket, was recently named a regional winner in the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) annual awards contest for the Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper category. 

“The SPJ awards are the top of the line for student journalism contests, and this category is akin to a best in show award that judges the entire publication, so we are quite excited,” said Brandon Szuminsky, instructor of communication at Waynesburg University and faculty adviser to the Yellow Jacket. 

Nick Farrell, a senior communication (sports broadcasting/sports information) major and the executive editor of the Yellow Jacket, took home two regional awards for General News Reporting. The awards recognize his article on past Waynesburg University president A.B. Miller’s diary returning to campus and his series on the University’s student senate changes. 

“Having the piece on Miller's diary recognized was a gratifying experience for me, especially since I found out about the award a few weeks before President Lee's inauguration and at a time when the campus community is greatly in touch with its history,” Farrell said. 

Farrell enjoyed the opportunity to tell Lee about the Yellow Jacket award in person, in Lee’s office where the diary is kept. 

“The Yellow Jacket's role is to serve the campus community, and we have a history of exceeding that call to service that dates back to the early 1900s,” Farrell said. “To be recognized individually for my work is quite an honor, but I'm most pleased by the fact the entire staff has been recognized for its outstanding commitment to the weekly execution of reporting news factually and effectively.”

While the Yellow Jacket typically wins at least one award from SPJ each year, this is the first time it has won an SPJ Best All-Around award in nearly a decade. The Yellow Jacket won SPJ All-Around awards in both 2004 and 2005, a time when Szuminsky, then a student at Waynesburg University, was editor of the paper.

In April, the Yellow Jacket will learn how it placed in region four. First place winners move on to the national SPJ competition. Farrell, too, will learn how he placed among other young journalists from across the region. 

“No matter how the placing works out, we know that the preeminent journalism organization thinks the Jacket is one of the top three papers in this region,” said Szuminsky.

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Contact: Ashley Wise, Communication Specialist

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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