A team of 15 University of Mississippi students earned 25 awards at this weekend’s 32nd annual Southeast Journalism Conference, including 17 Best of the South awards and being named 1st Place Journalism Champions for the on-site competitions.
Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, hosted the 2018 conference, which was attended by students and faculty from colleges across the Southeast. Ole Miss hosted the conference last year.
The Best of the South contest recognizes the best student journalist work from 2017. In this year’s competition, there were 412 entries from 30 universities.
Abbie McIntosh won first place for Best TV Hard News Reporter, and Thomas DeMartini and Austin Hille teamed to win Best Broadcast Advertising Staff Member.
Lana Ferguson placed second for Best News Writer and Best Feature Writer. Other second-place winners were Madison Heil for Best Journalism Research Paper and Erin Pennington for Best Radio Hard News Reporter.
Third-place winners included Jake Thrasher for Best News-Editorial Artist/Illustrator, DeAndria Turner for Best Radio Journalist and NewsWatch Ole Miss for Best College TV Station.
Other Ole Miss students and staff that placed in Best of the South included The Daily Mississippian, which won fourth place for Best College Newspaper; Marlee Crawford, who won fifth place for Best Press Photographer; NewsWatch Ole Miss, which won fifth place for Best College News Video Program; Devna Bose, who won sixth place for Best Arts and Entertainment Writer; Ethel Mwedziwendira, who won seventh place for Best Newspaper Page Layout Designer; Hayden Benge, who won eighth place for Best Newspaper Page Layout Designer; Grant Gaar, who won eighth place for Best TV News Feature Reporter; and Liam Nieman, who won eighth place for Best Opinion-Editorial Writer.
Lana Ferguson, editor-in-chief of The Daily Mississippian, said she was honored to be a part of this year’s SEJC team and see the Student Media Center’s hard work recognized.
“I’m very proud of The Daily Mississippian team and all of the Student Media Center staffs for how well they represented the university at SEJC,” she said. “To win more than a dozen Best of the South Awards and then grand champions is really a testament of just how amazing the Meek School is and the quality, real-life experience we’re getting working at the SMC.”
In addition to winning 17 Best of the South awards, the Student Media Center team won awards in the on-site competitions, earning the title of Grand Championship team. Points are based on universites’ first, second and third-place finishes in the competitions.
The Student Media Center had three first-place finishes in the onsite competitions. Devna Bose won for arts and entertainment writing; Marlee Crawford for sports photography; and Ethel Mwedziwendira for current events.
Second-place finishes included Hayden Benge for newspaper design; Clifton Carroll for public relations and Marisa Morrissette for media history/law/ethics. Third-place winners were Matthew Hendley for TV anchoring and DeAndria Turner for radio reporting.
This was the sixth time in eight years that Ole Miss students have won SEJC’s on-site journalism Grand Championship award.
Abbie McIntosh, NewsWatch station manager and first-place TV Hard News reporter winner, said that competing in the onsite competitions was a highlight of the weekend.
“It was real-world pressure,” she said. “It was tough, but very rewarding in everything we learned along the way.”
McIntosh said that winning awards at SEJC meant the world to her and her staff.
“These awards let us and everyone else know that we’re doing good work,” she said. “Our hard work is being recognized, and that’s an awesome feeling.”
Patricia Thompson, Meek School assistant dean, who oversees the Student Media Center, accompanied students on the trip.
“Year after year, our students excel in both the Best of the South and the on-site competitions,” Thompson said. “Some of them are in our newsroom for many hours each day, five days a week. They use what they learn in classes to produce outstanding work, and they do so not just to gain practical experience for internships and jobs but also because they are passionate about keeping the campus and community informed about events and issues.”