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b2ap3_thumbnail_6-13-YJ-national-award.jpgWaynesburg University’s student-run newspaper, The Yellow Jacket, recently won the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) 2016 Mark of Excellence Award for In-Depth Reporting, Small School Division. The award represents the newspaper’s first national-level win.

“Winning a national award for this series, which was the work of four students over the course of an entire calendar year, not only is incredible for these students and is validation of their incredible talent, but is also a reminder to the rest of The Yellow Jacket and other students in the department that hard work really does pay off,” said Dr. Brandon Szuminsky, instructor of communication and faculty advisor for The Yellow Jacket.

Waynesburg University was only one of two Pennsylvania universities to earn a national award in any of the newspaper categories.

The entry was a five-story series on the heroin epidemic written by Kimmi Baston, Anthony Conn, Teghan Simonton and Mattie Winowitch, and it was one of four first-place region awards received by The Yellow Jack in April, all of which were sent on to be judged nationally against the 11 other SPJ regions.

“Any time our students’ work is recognized is exciting, but to be judged the very best in the entire country is phenomenal,” said Szuminsky. “It’s hard to put too fine a point on this, but these four students wrote a series of articles that beat out every student journalist at every college and university with 10,000 students or fewer.”

All national winners and finalists will be recognized at the SPJ’s 2017 Excellence in Journalism Conference in Anaheim, California, in September.

Founded in 1849 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Waynesburg University is located on a traditional campus in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania, with three additional sites located in the Pittsburgh region. The University is one of only 21 Bonner Scholar schools in the country, offering local, regional and international opportunities to touch the lives of others through service.

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Ashley Wise, Associate Director of University Relations

724-852-7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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b2ap3_thumbnail_4-5-YJ-Award.jpgWaynesburg University’s student-run newspaper, The Yellow Jacket, has been named the Best All-Around Non-Daily Newspaper across four states, which is unprecedented in the University’s history. While the newspaper has been named a finalist for the award in the past, this year, the newspaper was named the first-place winner for the first time.

“This is, without a doubt, the biggest recognition in the newspaper’s nearly 130-year history,” said Dr. Brandon Szuminsky, faculty advisor for the Yellow Jacket and instructor of communication.

To earn first place, the Yellow Jacket overtook finalist newspapers at Central Michigan University and Kent State University, which have an undergraduate population of approximately 20,000 and 40,000 students, respectively.

The award is one of a series of Mark of Excellence awards, recognizing the best in student journalism, given by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). SPJ is a national, prestigious organization of professional and student journalists. Waynesburg’s SPJ region, Region 4, includes Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and part of Pennsylvania. The Yellow Jacket is therefore up against a large number of accomplished college newspapers for the Best All-Around award.

“It’s an unbelievable honor,” said Kimmi Baston, executive editor of the Yellow Jacket. “To be named, effectively, the best newspaper in the region above schools that are 20 or 30 times larger than us is true validation for the hours and hours of hard work the staff puts in.”

The Yellow Jacket received this honor when several members of the staff attended the regional SPJ conference in Detroit, Michigan, on March 31 and April 1. At the Mark of Excellence Award Ceremony, the staff also received nine group and individual awards, including their first-ever recognition for a photo illustration. In writing categories, which are divided into small and large schools, the staff swept both finalist spots and the winning spot in two different categories, General News and Sports Writing, and earned first place in In-Depth Reporting.

“This was an incredible weekend of firsts for The Yellow Jacket,” said Dr. Szuminsky. “We’ve had success in the past at SPJ but we’ve never had so many first-place awards. And to sweep all three awards in two of the categories – and key categories, like general news and sports writing – speaks volumes about the quality of student work being done at Waynesburg.”

All four of the staff’s first-place entries will now move on to the national Mark of Excellence competition and be judged against the first-place winners from the rest of the country’s regions.

Staff group and individual awards include:

  • Finalist, Breaking News Reporting (Small: 1-9,999 Students): “Thomas More women’s basketball team stripped of 2014-15 title” by senior Jacob Meyer
  • Finalist, General News Reporting (Small: 1-9,999 Students): “Incoming freshmen still largely unaware of housing policy” by senior Jacob Meyer
  • Finalist, General News Reporting (Small: 1-9,999 Students): “Shanksville: Stories are shared and respects are paid at Flight 93 Memorial” by junior Shon Meade
  • Winner, General News Reporting (Small: 1-9,999 Students): “Ongoing drug issues addressed throughout community” by graduate Anthony Conn and sophomores Teghan Simonton and Mattie Winowitch
  • Winner, In-Depth Reporting (Small: 1-9,999 Students): “Ongoing drug issues addressed throughout community” by graduate Anthony Conn, senior Kimmi Baston and sophomores Teghan Simonton and Mattie Winowitch
  • Finalist, Sports Writing (Small: 1-9,999 Students): “Thomas More women’s basketball team stripped of 2014-15 title” by senior Jacob Meyer
  • Finalist, Sports Writing (Small: 1-9,999 Students): “The journey of the 2016 Women’s Cross Country team” by senior Jacob Meyer and sophomore Luke Goodling
  • Winner, Sports Writing (Small: 1-9,999 Students): “D-III sports about more than professional aspirations, students say” by senior Kimmi Baston
  • Finalist, Photo Illustration (Small: 1-9,999 Students): “’I Do’ doesn’t have to wait” by junior Shon Meade

Founded in 1849 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Waynesburg University is located on a traditional campus in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania, with three additional sites located in the Pittsburgh region. The University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and is one of only 21 Bonner Scholar schools in the country, offering local, regional and international opportunities to touch the lives of others through service.

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Ashley Wise, Associate Director of University Relations

724-852-7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_5-16-Yellow-Jacket-ASPA.jpgThe American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) recently awarded Waynesburg University’s student-produced newspaper, The Yellow Jacket, the First Place with Special Merit Award and the Most Outstanding University Newspaper Award.

The First Place with Special Merit Award was awarded to 36 winners nationwide based upon outstanding design and content, and the Most Outstanding University Newspaper Award was presented to only three of those school newspapers. This was Waynesburg’s first time earning the “most outstanding” award, earning 955 of the possible 1,000 points.

“The Yellow Jacket has a long history of being recognized by regional and statewide organizations, but to get an award like this against national competition is obviously very special,” said Brandon Szuminsky, instructor of communication and co-advisor of The Yellow Jacket. “To win this award is really a testament to both the quality of our students and the opportunities they have in the Department of Communication.”

The ASPA annual contest recognizes school yearbooks, magazines and newspapers that excel in overall design and content. According to ASPA, the contest also provides applicants with advice on advertising placement, cover design, graphics, headlining, photography, page design and story layout, among other items.

Earlier in the year, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), a national organization of journalists, named the 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 wide variety of recognition the staff received this year shows that they are excelling across the board,” said Szuminsky. “I am glad that ASPA and these other organizations are seeing what we see every day: that Waynesburg University has a stellar group of young journalists.”

In total, The Yellow Jacket collected 11 awards during the 2015-16 academic year, the first time in the paper’s history the number of awards reached double digits.

Founded in 1849 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Waynesburg University is located on a traditional campus in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania, with three additional sites located in the Pittsburgh region. The University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and is one of only 21 Bonner Scholar schools in the country, offering local, regional and international opportunities to touch the lives of others through service.

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Ashley Wise, Assistant Director of University Relations

724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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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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b2ap3_thumbnail_9-15-Kimmie.jpgThe Yellow Jacket: an award-winning student newspaper since 1924, and the place where communication students come to prosper.

As a freshman journalism student at Waynesburg, I knew I’d get involved with the Yellow Jacket. But for that first semester, I was extremely hesitant to devote myself to it. I’m just a freshman – how valuable can I really be? What if my work isn’t good enough? What if I don’t find my niche? How will I get my other work done? How will I have time to sleep?

Two years later, as a junior, I’m the Executive Editor for the Yellow Jacket. Some of these questions still eat at me – I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Regardless, I know this is where I’m meant to be. A lot of my work for the newspaper is behind the scenes, but I’m making my mark. And at the same time, the Yellow Jacket is making its mark on me. Here are three of the most important lessons I’m learning as Executive Editor, each of which has given me insight into my field, myself and my future.

  1. There CAN be enough time. The Yellow Jacket is issued weekly. I spend every Monday and Tuesday night with my staff, working far past midnight to create all 16 pages of the newspaper. Then, we spend the day on Wednesday (in between classes) with our advisor, finalizing everything and sending it off to print. I use Thursday and Friday to interview sources and write articles for the paper, and then I spend the weekend attending to all of my other schoolwork and seeing family and friends. Come Monday, I begin again, with classes and a job added into the mix. It used to seem impossible – and terrifying. Now, it’s doable. So far, I’ve found time for everything – though it sometimes means I sacrifice a full night’s sleep. The point is, effective time management is a reachable goal and an essential skill for college and beyond. The Yellow Jacket has shown me my strengths and my limits, and together, we’ve struck a balance.
  2. Flying solo isn’t an option.  When I was named as the next Executive Editor, the most popular piece of advice I got was, “You need someone on your side.” I’m lucky enough to have a whole support team, without whom I’d be floundering. I have a staff at the Yellow Jacket who works with me every day to help make the newspaper a success and my life easier. I have two best friends who listen to all of my dilemmas, support all of my endeavors and drag me away from my work to relax with them at least once a week. I have an advisor who takes a genuine interest in my life, future and well-being, in addition to guiding my every Yellow Jacket step. I’m an independent person, but the Yellow Jacket has taught me that the best results arrive when you rely on others. 
  3. The real world is coming - get ready.  The real world doesn’t allow sleeping in until 10 on weekdays. The real world brings constant pressure from superiors to perform well. The real world means being professional, becoming a leader and establishing who you are. More than any experience I’ve had, the Yellow Jacket is getting me ready for that world. I can’t complain about getting up early – I know it’ll only get earlier when I graduate. I can’t crack under the pressure of responsibility – I have to learn to be at my best when there are people counting on me. I can’t be afraid to come into my own and be a leader – that’s what will lead to success in the future. I’m in training every day for how to interact professionally with my peers and my superiors, and I know I’ll be thanking the Yellow Jacket when I leave school and those skills really count. 

From being a scared, shy, intimidated freshman to becoming Executive Editor, the Yellow Jacket is, more than anything else, responsible for showing me the way. I don’t know where I’m headed after May 2017, but I know this: the Yellow Jacket has changed me – for good.

 

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