University of Mississippi students earned 18 awards at the Southeast Journalism Conference awards ceremony Friday night, including a first-place honor for Public Service Journalism for The Daily Mississippian’s “The Red Zone” special edition.
Daily Mississippian Editor-in-Chief Clara Turnage led the award-winning project during fall 2016. It highlighted the issue of sexual assault, which Turnage said she felt was under-reported on campus. She said many of the editors and reporters she worked with wanted to tell the stories of sexual assault that happened in their own college town.
“It’s an incredible honor to receive this award, and I couldn’t be prouder of my staff,” Turnage said. “They are so talented, and I am so blessed to work with them.”
The Best of the South contest honored work published or aired between mid-November 2015 and mid-November 2016. There were entries from 29 universities across seven Southeastern states.
Turnage won second place in the prestigious College Journalist of the Year category. She was awarded a plaque and $500.
Daily Mississippian Managing Editor Lana Ferguson won first place for magazine writing, and DM Lifestyles Editor Zoe McDonald won first place for feature writing.
Second-place awards included: Hayden Benge, page design; Billy Rainey, radio reporting; Lauren Veline, journalism research paper.
Third-place awards included: Lauren Layton, TV feature reporting; Daniella Oropeza, TV hard news reporting; Clara Turnage, special event reporter; Lana Ferguson, news writing; Marisa Morrissette, graphic design; Jake Thrasher, editorial artist.
Other individual winners included: Julia Grant, fourth place, op-ed writing; Ellen Spies, fourth place, advertising; Brian Scott Rippee, eighth place sports writing.
The Daily Mississippian, the only daily newspaper in the contest, won fifth place as best newspaper, and theDMonline.com won third place for best website. NewsWatch Ole Miss, a daily live newscast, won fifth place as best TV station.
The Southeast Journalism Conference also includes onsite competitions, where students competed in 15 categories to produce content with tight deadlines. Georgia State University took first place in the Grand Championship Team Category. Belmont University placed second, and Southeast Louisiana University claimed third place. As the host university, Ole Miss could not participate in onsite competition.
Conference speakers included Meek School faculty and journalists- including alumni- from The New York Times, Clarion-Ledger, ESPN’s The Undefeated, the Associated Press, Mississippi Today, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, E.W. Scripps, the Miami Herald, and other media companies.
Middle Tennessee State University tied for fifth place in the Grand Championship Team Category this year. Faculty adviser for the MTSU paper Sidelines Leon Alligood said his students have been to five SEJC conferences together.
“We come every year,” Alligood said. “My expectations were high, and I’m happy to say they were met.”
Bryce McNeil, assistant director of student media at Georgia State University, hosted the conference two years ago in Atlanta.
“I was especially overwhelmed by how positive the speakers were in spite of so many clashes in the media,” McNeil said.
He said this year he brought 29 students to Oxford, which is the biggest group yet to represent Georgia State at SEJC. He said these conferences have a lot to offer to journalism students.
“First, the camaraderie is invaluable,” McNeil said. “And they leave knowing their profession really does matter.”
Harding University will host the next SEJC in 2018. Faculty adviser Katie Ramirez said this was her program’s first time visiting Oxford.
“I think they’re all ready to move here,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”
The University of Mississippi Student Media Center hosted this year’s conference. Its theme was “Spotlight on Storytelling: Watchdog Journalism in a Mobile World.” Meek School Assistant Dean Patricia Thompson was this year’s SEJC president.
Will Norton, dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, said he was truly proud of the Ole Miss students who participated in the conference.
“Assistant Dean Thompson and her staff and the students of the Student Media Center provided a wonderful weekend for those attending and communicated excellence to everyone who attended,” Norton said.
Thompson said among the highlights for her during the conference were Jerry Mitchell’s keynote banquet speech, the support and help from Meek School faculty and other departments on campus, and the recognition of Ole Miss students’ work.
“They are full-time students who work as journalists for hours every day and night because they care about our campus and community,” Thompson said.
This story was originally published on thedmonline.com.