Journalism students win state, regional awards

Three Flagler College journalism students have won four state and regional awards for work published online or broadcast in 2008 according to an announcement from Brian Thompson, Director of Public Information.

Recent graduate Nathan Edwards and senior Aslyn Baringer picked up two Associated Press Broadcasters’ College Contest awards in the short hard news feature category. Their winning entries explored a ban on red snapper fishing off the local coast and reported on an experiment to make the U.S. Postal Service “green.”

In addition, Edwards and Baringer won a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for the in-depth reporting they presented on last December’s FCTV Journal – Environmental Edition. FCTV Journal is a community news magazine produced by Flagler students and aired on local Comcast Cable Channel 24.

Ryan Day, who graduated from Flagler in 2008, also won an SPJ Mark of Excellence Award for his online feature reporting about local homelessness, called “Sleepless in St. Augustine.” Day lived as a homeless person in order to see firsthand and report on the perils of being homeless in the Oldest City.

“I am always proud when students win awards, but I am especially proud of this award because Ryan demonstrated a level of passion and dedication I rarely see in college students,” said Helena Sarkio, Ph.D., a Flagler journalism professor. “His article touched readers, as was evident in Gargoyle online feedback and in The Florida Times-Union writing a story about Ryan.”

The SPJ awards are regional and pit Flagler students against schools in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. The AP awards are statewide and allow Flagler students to vie against their peers from such big universities as Florida, Florida State and Miami.

“This is a real milestone,” said Tracy Halcomb, Ph.D., chair of Flagler’s communication department. “These awards show that our students can compete successfully against students from much bigger journalism programs.”

“The competition is fierce,” said Rob Armstrong, journalism professor and faculty advisor to FCTV Journal. “The entries are judged by working journalists, and to win means that the students have risen to very high level of professionalism. I’m very proud of them.”

Armstrong noted that the winning entries all represented serious news gathering and original reporting. “Journalism isn’t about fluff,” he said. “It’s about reporting stories that people need to know, even if that reporting makes some of the people about whom the stories are focused uncomfortable.”

“This program prepares journalism students for jobs in a very difficult economic environment,” Halcomb added. “Our faculty has a wealth of real-world experience, and that shows up in how well our students are prepared.”

Flagler College journalism students have won four SPJ awards in the last three years and five AP awards in the last five years.

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