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Cronkite Students Take Home Most 1st Place Awards at SPJ Competition

June 16, 2015

Arizona State University students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication scored the most first-place finishes at the Society of Professional Journalists’ prestigious national Mark of Excellence Awards.

The Cronkite School amassed a total of five national winners, the most among the 86 journalism programs in the annual competition. Cronkite students took first place in several broadcast categories, including best newscast, in-depth reporting, general news reporting and sports.

In the past 10 years, the Cronkite School has the best overall record in the national Mark of Excellence Awards, finishing with the most awards eight times. In that span, students have won a total of 81 awards — 41 national winners and 40 finalists.

In this year’s competition, Cronkite News was named best all-around television newscast. The student-produced program serves as the nightly newscast for Arizona PBS, reaching more than 1.9 million homes across the state. This is the fifth time in the past 10 years that the SPJ has named the Cronkite School’s news broadcast as one of the nation’s best.

In all, six Cronkite students were recognized by the SPJ this year for their reports on water rights, police body cameras and concussions in sports, among other topics. The students’ work was published in a number of media outlets, including Cronkite News, FOX Sports Arizona and NPR member station KJZZ-FM.

“We are extremely proud of the outstanding work of our tremendous students,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “To be recognized by one of the nation’s oldest and most-respected journalism organizations year after year is a testament to our fantastic students and their professors.”

National Mark of Excellence Award winners and finalists are chosen from the top work in each of SPJ’s 12 regions. In the Region 11 contest this year, the Cronkite School finished first for the 15th year in a row with 35 awards, nearly twice as many as the second-place school. This year’s Regional 11 contest attracted entries from college journalism students in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada.

The SPJ will celebrate the national first-place winners during the annual Excellence in Journalism conference in Orlando, Fla., in September.

National Winners

Best All-around Television Newscast
Cronkite News
Kelsey Tardio and Brittany Ducksworth

Television In-depth Reporting
Vondalynn Dias
Arizona’s Water Future,” Cronkite News

Television General News Reporting
Tara Molina
Mesa Police Body Camera,” Cronkite News

Television Sports Reporting
Kari Osep
Concussions: It’s a Girl Thing, Too,” Cronkite Sports on FOX Sports Arizona

Radio Sports Reporting
Peter Haden
Race Fans Flock for the ‘Almost-Crashes,’” KJZZ-FM News