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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_monogram.jpgWaynesburg University’s student newspaper, the Yellow Jacket, was recently recognized with five awards from two preeminent professional journalism organizations.

The student-run paper was named a finalist for two top regional awards from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and was awarded three statewide awards for individual excellence in reporting from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA).

Selected as a finalist for the Region 4 Mark of Excellence Award for Best All-Around Non-Daily Newspaper by SPJ for the second consecutive year, the Yellow Jacket will learn how it placed in its region later in March at a conference at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. First place regional winners will move on to the national SPJ competition.

"These two consecutive awards show great progress not just at the paper, but in our own development as journalists," said Nick Farrell, senior communication major and executive editor of the Yellow Jacket. "I have no doubt that those staff members who choose to continue careers in journalism after college will continue the success we started here."

Brandon Szuminsky, instructor of communication and co-advisor for the Yellow Jacket at Waynesburg University, said that the Best All-Around category "is basically a best-in-show award that takes into account the entire paper and is judged regardless of school."

"Last year's winner, for example, has an enrollment of 28,000, and we were right there behind them with only 1,500," Szuminsky said. "For us to be one of the three finalists for this award means we've got one of the three best non-daily student newspapers in a four-state region for back-to-back years – that's pretty impressive for a small school such as this."

SPJ also named the Yellow Jacket a finalist in the Best In-Depth Reporting (Small School) category for the coverage of Waynesburg University President Douglas G. Lee’s inauguration last spring.

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.

Additionally, PNA recognized the Yellow Jacket with three Student Keystone Press Awards in Division II, the category for four-year colleges and universities with enrollment under 10,000 students within the commonwealth.

The Yellow Jacket’s PNA awards include first place in the category "Ongoing News Coverage" for the series "Administration overhauls academic calendar" by Farrell, John Lydic, Jacob Meyer and Kimmi Baston; first place in the "Feature Story" category for "Nursing a life of stress" by Rebecca Burcham; and an honorable mention for sports story "Jacket football writes history with a tale of two kicks" by Farrell.

"It's hard to overstate how proud I am of these student journalists," Szuminsky said. "To win two first place awards and an honorable mention in such diverse categories speaks to the depth and breadth of the coverage of the Yellow Jacket that the students put out each and every week. They pour so much of their time and talent into the newspaper that it's incredibly gratifying to see them recognized for their work at a state-wide level."

The Student Keystone Press Awards contest recognizes high school and college journalism that provides relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers.

"As editor, few things have been more gratifying than these awards," Farrell said. "They're a reminder of how important good journalism is in our society and how much my classmates and I have grown through our instruction at Waynesburg. I hope that future writers at the Yellow Jacket continue to evolve with the paper, not for the sake of awards, but for the betterment of our campus community."

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Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor
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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