Waynesburg 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 email@example.com