Awards

2016

Sarah King won a $1,000 scholarship for receiving fourth place in the breaking news competition of the Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program.

King’s entry was an April 1 story about a vigil honoring Virginia State Trooper Chad Dermyer, who had been fatally shot by a gunman at the Richmond Greyhound bus station. King, who is executive editor of the Commonwealth Times, VCU’s independent student newspaper, covered both the shooting and the vigil, filing stories as the news unfolded.

Several CNS clients published King’s work. For the Hearst contest, which is often called the “Pulitzer Prize of college journalism,” the Robertson School entered the Commonwealth Times article, “Vigil for fallen trooper draws nationwide support.”

The Hearst Journalism Awards competition is open to undergraduate students in the 108 programs across the United States accredited by the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. The awards program consists of a series of contests during the school year for writing, photojournalism, broadcast news and multimedia.

For the breaking news contest, the program received 90 entries from 55 schools. First place went to a senior from Oklahoma State University; students from Indiana University took second and third places; and a student from Elon University came in fifth. The top five finishers will receive scholarships from the Hearst Foundation.

Sixth- through 10th-place winners, who will receive certificates of merit, were from the universities of Texas, Illinois and North Carolina, as well as from Penn State.

Officers from across the country attended the vigil to honor slain State Trooper Chad Dermyer. Photo by Sarah King.

Officers across the U.S. attended the vigil for State Trooper Chad Dermyer. (Photo by Sarah King)

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Four entries by VCU’s Capital News Service were honored as finalists in the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2015 Mark of Excellence competition for Region 2:

Benjamin May, Sean C.W. Korsgaard, Janeal Downs and Michael Melkonian were finalists in the Breaking News Reporting category for their coverage of former Gov. Bob McDonnell being sentenced to prison for corruption. FauquierNow.com, as well as other news organizations, ran the CNS report.

Downs and Cameron Vigliano were finalists in Online In-Depth Reporting for a series of stories on Native Americans in Virginia. The stories were published by RVA News, among other outlets.

Melkonian was a finalist in Breaking News Photography for photos of McDonnell’s sentencing.

Melkonian also was a finalist in Radio News Reporting for a CNS story titled “A-F School Evaluation System Undergoing Changes.” The story was aired by WCVE, Richmond’s NPR station.

The awards were presented April 9 at SPJ’s Region 2 Spring Conference, held at the Hilton hotel at Short Pump. In the regional competition, VCU students compete against college journalists in Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. VCU is in the “large” division, going up against schools with more than 10,000 students. Student journalists could enter in the contest work published or broadcast during calendar year 2015.

In all, VCU students won 14 awards, including four first-place honors, in the regional Mark of Excellence competition.

Michael Melkonian’s photo of ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Michael Melkonian’s photo of ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell.

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VCU’s student newspaper, the Commonwealth Times, won nine awards in this year’s Virginia Press Association contest — including first place for a photo taken by a journalist for the school’s Capital News Service.

The awards recognize work published during 2015. The contest drew more than 3,400 entries from 122 VPA member newspapers.

Competing against other non-daily publications, the Commonwealth Times won first place in Breaking News Photo for a picture taken by CNS reporter Craig Zirpolo titled “Black Lives Matter protest shuts down Broad Street.”

Zirpolo, a journalism major who graduated last May, took the photo the night of March 18, 2015, when VCU students held a march to protest police brutality and show their solidarity with Martese Johnson, a University of Virginia student who was severely injured during an arrest outside a pub in Charlottesville. Zirpolo also provided a text story and video report on the march.

The awards were presented April 9, 2016, at the VPA’s annual conference.

Craig Zirpolo’s winning photo of a protest against police brutality

Craig Zirpolo’s winning photo of a protest against police brutality

2014

Two CNS entries won awards in the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2013 Mark of Excellence competition for Region 2.

Stephen Nielsen

Stephen Nielsen

Blake Belden and Michael Schuster won first place in the General News Reporting (Newspapers) category for their article, “Virginia’s suicide rate highest in 13 years.” The report was published by several newspapers, including the Henrico Citizen and the Newport News Daily Press.

Stephen Nielsen was a finalist in the General News Reporting category for his article, “Nuclear authority generates controversy.” It was published by several Virginia newspapers, such as the Rappahannock News, and distributed nationwide by the McClatchy News Service.

In all, VCU students won three first-place awards and were finalists for 13 other awards. The awards were presented March 29, 2014, at SPJ’s Region 2 Spring Conference in Washington, D.C.

In the regional competition, VCU students compete against college journalists in Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. VCU is in the “large” division, going up against schools with more than 10,000 students.

Student journalists could enter in the contest work published or aired during calendar year 2013.

2013

Three CNS students won awards in the SPJ’s 2012 Mark of Excellence competition for Region 2.

Zack Budryk won first place for General Column Writing for political analyses published by Style Weekly, Richmond’s alternative newsweekly.

¶ Leah Small won second place for Breaking News Reporting for the story “33 women’s rights protesters arrested at Capitol,” distributed by CNS and published by the Rappahannock News, Loudoun Times and other news outlets.

¶ Amir Vera won third place for Radio News Reporting for his report “EpiPen Law May Save Kids with Allergies,” distributed by CNS and aired by WVCW, VCU’s student radio station.

The awards were presented April 20, 2013, at the Region 2 SPJ Spring Conference in Norfolk. In the regional competition, VCU students are competing against college journalists in Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

In all, VCU students won 20 awards, including seven first-place awards, in the 2012 regional competition. Among the first-place winners:

¶ VCU InSight, a public affairs TV news program that airs monthly on WCVW-TV Richmond PBS, was honored as Best All-Around Television Newscast.

¶ And Sean Collins-Smith and Brandon Shulleeta won first place for In-Depth Reporting for an investigative package they published as students in the School of Mass Communications’ Multimedia Journalism Master’s Program.

The regional first-place winners then advanced to SPJ’s national competition. The package by Sean and Brandon was recognized as the National Winner for In-Depth Reporting, large school division – the first time a VCU entry had received that honor.

SPJ will recognize first-place national winners at the Excellence in Journalism 2013 conference in Southern California, Aug. 24-26, 2013.

2012

 

Two CNS stories won awards in SPJ’s 2011 Mark of Excellence competition for Region 2.

Alyx Duckett and Matt Birch, recent graduates of the VCU School of Mass Communications, won first place in the Online Sports Reporting category for a multimedia package they produced for CNS during the VCU basketball team’s run to the Final Four tournament.

Birch also won third place in Online News Reporting for a report he wrote about Virginia’s crackdown on synthetic marijuana.

The awards were presented March 31, 2012, at the Region 2 SPJ Spring Conference at Elon University in North Carolina. In the regional competition, VCU students are competing against college journalists in Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The regional first-place winners advance to the national round of judging.

This year, the Mark of Excellence contest received more than 4,000 entries across SPJ’s 12 regions.

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Journalism major Ryan Murphy was among a dozen college journalists selected from across the United States to serve on the staff of The Working Press, which produced a daily newspaper for the 1,300 people attending the Excellence in Journalism 2012 conference.

2011

For a CNS story that received national attention, Kelsey Radcliffe won first place in breaking news reporting in the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2010 Mark of Excellence competition for Region 2. Radcliffe was honored April 9, 2011, during the Region 2 SPJ Spring Conference in Norfolk.

First-place winners from SPJ’s 12 regions advanced to the national round of judging.

Radcliffe’s winning entry ignited a national firestorm by reporting that state Delegate Bob Marshall had called disabled children a punishment from God to women who have aborted their first pregnancy.

Marshall made the remarks at a Feb. 18, 2010, press conference urging the General Assembly to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. Radcliffe was the only journalist at the press conference to pick up on the significance of Marshall’s comments. Her story was published the next day on the CNS website – along with an audio clip of the legislator’s remarks.

By Feb. 21-22, several CNS clients carried the story, and then it was picked up by the national media, including the national TV networks and commentators Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow.

Marshall issued a statement and gave a seven-minute speech on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates criticizing the story, defending his comments and saying he had been quoted out of context. CNS maintained that Radcliffe’s report was solidly documented and showed Marshall had been quoted accurately.

For the Mark of Excellence contest, CNS entered Radcliffe’s story as it appeared in The Gainesville Times in Prince William County. The Times is a weekly newspaper (and CNS subscriber) in Marshall’s House district.

SPJ’s Region 2 includes colleges and universities throughout Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Delaware and the District of Columbia.

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Fletcher Babb, a copy editor for CNS during Spring 2010, was among a dozen college journalists from across the country selected to produce the daily newspaper that covered the 2010 national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Fletcher served as a copy editor for The Working Press when the convention was held Oct. 3-5, 2010, in Las Vegas.

2009-10

Tracy Kennedy’s video of ‘Distracted Delegates’ won first place in the Multimedia Competition of the Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program in May 2009. Tracy beat out 78 entrants from 47 undergraduate journalism programs at colleges and universities across the nation, the foundation said in announcing the awards.

Tracy’s video has been featured on The Washington Post’s Virginia Politics blog and WTVR, Richmond’s CBS affiliate; Style Weekly gave it a +3 in the city’s zeitgeist.

Some legislators say the video was unfair: that they were on a break when they were caught surfing the Web (Tracy says that’s not true, and the House minutes for Feb. 25 don’t indicate a recess). What’s your take?

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Tracy’s video also won second place in the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2009 Mark of Excellence competition for Region 2. (This region includes colleges and universities throughout Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Delaware and the District of Columbia.)

The video had been entered in the Television General News Reporting category. The winners were announced on March 29, 2010, at the Region 2 SPJ Spring Conference held at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md.

In the General News Reporting category in Region 2, Kate Lewanowicz won second place for a CNS article headlined, “Alcoholic energy drinks generate dangerous buzz.”

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Josephine Varnier, a 2009 CNS reporter, was among 10 college journalists from across the country selected to produce the daily newspaper that covered the 2009 national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists in Indianapolis.

Josie wrote seven articles for The Working Press during the convention, which was held Aug. 27-30 in Indianapolis. Her articles included a profile of the Pulliam family, a legendary name in newspaper publishing, and a story about journalism job opportunities “off the beaten path.”

(Tragically, Josie died in a traffic accident in Richmond in 2011.)

2004-06

A story that Amy Biegelsen wrote for CNS in Spring 2005 won first place for general news writing among specialty publications in the Virginia Press Association‘s 2005 News, Editorial & Photo Contest.

Amy’s story, “The Fire Inside,” was published on April 20, 2005, in the Richmond alternative newspaper, Style Weekly. It described a Richmond woman’s fight to obtain a state pardon for an arson-related crime to which she unwittingly pleaded guilty 16 years earlier.

The VPA judges’ comments about the story: “Carefully and clearly reported. Compelling account of one human’s story that illustrates a little-known aspect of the legal/political system.”

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A story written by Maggie Souza and distributed via CNS received an award in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Region 2 Mark of Excellence competition on April 1, 2006, in Washington, D.C.

Souza’s story, “Donors hedge bets in VA gov’s race,” was published on Stateline.org on Dec. 28, 2005. It won third place for Online News Reporting in the Mark of Excellence competition.

In the Region 2 contest, VCU competes with student media from throughout Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Delaware and the District of Columbia.

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Two CNS stories won awards in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Region 2 Mark of Excellence competition on April 9, 2005, at Towson University in Maryland. The awards were for:

Newspapers – Spot News Reporting: Second place — Kara Glascoe, for “Bloxom mulled for state ag secretary,” a CNS exclusive published in the Eastern Shore News on Dec. 4, 2004.

Online – General News Reporting: Third place — Kara Glascoe, for “Music trail could help struggling Virginia towns,” a CNS story published on Stateline.org on March 1, 2004.

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On April 17, 2004, CNS students won two awards in the Region 2 Mark of Excellence competition. The awards, announced at SPJ’s SuperRegional Conference in Harrisburg, Pa., were for:

Online General News: Second place — Robert Cunard and Sharon Ramos. For Virginia Rural Areas Slighted By Car Tax Relief.

Online Feature Reporting: Second place — Robert Cunard. For Virginia Political Nugget – Specialized Plates.

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