Local students awarded Mark of Excellence

The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to announce to Historic City News the names of Mark of Excellence Award winners in Region 3 for the 2010 calendar year.

Annually, the Society of Professional Journalists presents the Mark of Excellence Awards honoring the best in student journalism. The awards offer categories for print, radio, television and online collegiate journalism.

Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. This year, the contest received almost 4,000 entries across the 12 regions.

The honorees were awarded certificates on April 2 during the Region 3 Spring Conference held at Jacksonville State University in Anniston, Ala.

Flagler’s online student newspaper, the Gargoyle, took second place for Best Independent Online Student Publication. This is the second Website award this year for the online-only publication. Recently, the Gargoyle placed third in the Website category at the 2011 College Media Advisers’ David L. Adams Apple Awards.

In addition, Gargoyle Co-Editor Cal Colgan won first place for Online Opinion and Commentary, as well as third place for Online Feature Reporting with his piece, “Former Flagler student talks about Marine life in Afghanistan.”

Gargoyle Co-Editor Caroline Young took third place for Online Feature Reporting with her piece, “Doc says fad diets may be more harmful than healthy.”

The Gargoyle also published two more award winners: Ryan Buffa and Kristin McIntosh won third place for Online News Reporting with their piece, “Rutgers suicide reveals consequences of bullying and discrimination,” and Jill Hauser won first place in Online Feature Reporting with, “St. Augustine couple finds love, chaos with international adoption.”

Also from Flagler, Kristina Haumschild won first place for Television Sports Reporting with “More than just jocks.”

Hauser’s piece was written for an Advanced Reporting class taught by Helena Särkiö, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication at Flagler. She called this year’s awards a phenomenal success for Flagler.

“Not only did we win more awards than ever before, but three of our students finished first in their respective categories,” she said. “Also, we swept the Online Feature Writing category for four-year colleges and universities.”

Other award winners in these categories included Florida State University, University of Georgia, Louisiana State University, the University of Central Florida, Savannah College of Art and Design and the University of South Carolina.

Rob Armstrong, retired professional in residence at Flagler who taught the class that Haumschild produced her piece for, said that winning any Mark of Excellence Award is impressive.

“Winning as many [awards] as our Flagler journalism students did, and winning three firsts, is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Armstrong. “This is more evidence that our [journalism] students and our program deserve the outstanding national reputation they are earning. Our students are competitive with virtually any other journalism students in the country.”

Brian Thompson, adviser to the Gargoyle, said it was a pretty amazing showing, especially considering that Flagler is so much smaller than the other award-winning schools.

“Before this year the Gargoyle has only won two SPJ awards in our history,” he said. “So to win four in a single year is awesome, as is getting an award in the Website category. It’s another sign that the journalism students here at Flagler are topnotch, and we’re proud of them all.”

Entries are first judged on the regional level. First place regional winners will advance to the national round of judging. National winners will be announced in early May.

The contest was open to anyone enrolled in a college or university in the U.S. studying for an academic degree in 2010. Students who had had full-time, professional journalism experience, outside of internships, were not eligible. Entries must have been published or broadcast during the 2010 calendar year.

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