Waynesburg 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 firstname.lastname@example.org