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Flagler students net 17 SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards

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March 28, 2013

Flagler College communication students won 17 awards, including six first places, in the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2012 Mark of Excellence Awards for Region 3, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

The Gargoyle, Flagler’s online-only, student-run newspaper won a total of 15 awards, including five first place awards. Two students — Lauren Ely and Adam Hunt — from Associate Professor of Communication Helena Sarkio’s Advanced Reporting class won two awards, including a first place for Ely in Online Feature Reporting. Both of those stories were also published in The Gargoyle.

“Lauren and Adam’s wins make it a total of seven award-winning articles from my Advanced Print Reporting class since I first started to enter student work into the Mark of Excellence Awards in 2009, four of which have taken first place,” said Sarkio. “I couldn’t be prouder of the students and the continued record of success we have been able to build in the Communication Department.”

The awards honor the best in student journalism, and judges chose only those entries they felt were outstanding work worthy of such an honor. If the judges determined that none of the entries rose to the level of excellence, no award was given.

School divisions are based on student enrollment, which includes both graduate and undergraduate enrollment: Large schools have more than 10,000 students, medium have 9,999 to 5,001 students, and small have fewer than 5,000 students.

Flagler competed in the small division, except for the television breaking news reporting category, which was open to all schools. In that category, Joshua Santos and Ryan Buffa placed second for a piece on Mitt Romney’s visit to St. Augustine behind the University of Florida’s WUFT-TV and beat the University of Alabama’s ABC affiliate.

“This was pretty extraordinary for a small, online-only newspaper like ours to win so many awards, especially to win in a TV category when we don’t even have a TV station,” said Gargoyle Advisor Brian Thompson. “It really speaks to the extraordinary students in the Communication Department here at Flagler.

The Gargoyle also placed second in Best Independent Online Student Publication for small schools.

First-place winners move on to the national MOE competition among category winners from the 12 SPJ regions. National winners will be notified in the late spring and will be recognized at the Excellence in Journalism 2013 conference in Southern California, Aug. 24-26.

Other winners in the small-school division included Eckerd College, Savannah College of Art and Design and Samford University.

Awards included:

- Second place, Best Independent Online Student Publication (Small)
- First place, General News Reporting (Small), Ryan Buffa
- Second place, Feature Writing (Small), Emily Hoover
- Third place, Feature Writing (Small), Tiffanie Reynolds
- First place, Feature Photography (Small), Sarah Williamson
- Second place, Television Breaking News Reporting, Joshua Santos and Ryan Buffa
- First place, Online News Reporting (Small), Sarah Williamson
- Second place, Online News Reporting (Small), Ryan Buffa and Joshua Santos
- First place, Online Feature Reporting (Small), Lauren Ely
- Second place, Online Feature Reporting (Small), Tiffanie Reynolds
- Third place, Online Feature Reporting (Small), Adam Hunt
- First place, Online In-Depth Reporting (Small), Ryan Buffa
- Second place, Online In-Depth Reporting (Small), Michael Newberger
- First place, Online Sports Reporting (Small), Eric Albury
- Second place, Online Sports Reporting (Small), Jaycob Ammerman
- Third place, Online Sports Reporting (Small), Eric Albury
- First place, Online Opinion & Commentary (Small), Phil Grech


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