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Cronkite Students Top Nation in National SPJ Competition

May 25, 2006

SPJ Award WinnersStudents from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication won more national awards in this year’s Society of Professional Journalist’s intercollegiate journalism competition than any other school in the nation.

ASU students dominated the 2005 Mark of Excellence Awards competition with five national winners – including best TV newscast – and four national finalists. The University of Maryland finished second with three national winners and five finalists.

The SPJ awards come at a time when the Cronkite School is raking in the national honors. Earlier this year, the school placed second overall in the Hearst intercollegiate journalism awards, won three awards from the Broadcast Education Association and was a finalist in both the 11th Annual EPpy Awards and international Webby Awards. The Cronkite School was the only one in the nation to take first place awards in all three categories – broadcast, print and online.

“Our students are truly deserving of this recognition as they exhibit journalism excellence every day through their reporting, writing, editing and production, whether it’s broadcast, print or online,” said Dean Christopher Callahan. “Their award-winning style is a direct reflection of the school’s extraordinary faculty and staff. These students represent the Cronkite name well.”

For this year’s Mark of Excellence Awards, SPJ received more than 3,100 entries in 43 categories from collegiate journalists across the nation.

“Students continue to produce insightful journalism that tells stories we need to know,” said Mead Loop, SPJ’s vice president for campus chapter affairs.

To receive a nomination at the national level, ASU students first needed to win first place in the SPJ’s regional 11 competition, which includes schools in California, Nevada, Hawaii and Arizona. Competing against schools such as University of California at Berkeley, UCLA and University of Arizona, ASU walked away with 36 regional awards, most in the region.

ASU achieved the following national honors from the 2005 Mark of Excellence Awards:

  • Staff of ASU NewsWatch, national winner, television newscast
  • Ian Schwartz, national winner, television feature for “Drifting”
  • Erika Wurst, national winner, print general news reporting for “Education and Jobs”
  • William Pitts, national winner, radio news reporting for “Police Officer Violence”
  • Adam Wright, national winner, online sports reporting for “Hoops and Hollers: It’s March in Vegas”
  • Tracey Franks, national finalist, general column writing for “Column Collection”
  • Adriana Alvarado, national finalist, television breaking news reporting for “Snow Storm”
  • Zahid Arab, national finalist, television feature photography for “Yo Yo Champ”
  • Sky Schaudt, national finalist, online news reporting for “Cruising the Freeway Blogosphere”

National winners and finalists will be recognized during the Mark of Excellence Luncheon on Aug, 25, 2006, at the SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference in Chicago.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The organization is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is a nationally accredited school that focuses on professional journalism education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Cronkite School, which was named in honor of longtime CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite in 1984, has finished in the top 10 of the highly competitive Hearst intercollegiate journalism awards for the past five years.