Baylor journalism students win national and state awards

By Randy Fiedler

Baylor University journalism students have won an impressive number of awards in recent competitions against their peers from colleges and universities in Texas and nationwide.

“We are proud of our student journalists and how they stepped up this spring covering what will likely be the biggest story of their lifetimes — the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bruce Gietzen, director of student media at Baylor University.

National awards

Earlier this spring, the Baylor Lariat — the University’s campus newspaper — won a Gold Crown award in national competition in the “Hybrid News” category from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA). In addition, Focus Magazine, produced twice a year by Baylor journalism students, won a Silver Crown award in the CSPA’s “Print General Magazine” category. A total of 1,145 publications from across the country were eligible for CSPA judging.

Meanwhile, the Baylor Lariat website won the first place national “Best of Show” award for schools over 10,000 enrollment for 2019-2020 from the Associated College Press/College Media Association. In addition, the Baylor Roundup yearbook and Focus Magazine were finalists for the 2019-2020 national “Pacemaker” awards from Associated College Press (ACP), with Meredith Wagner chosen as a finalist in the national individual ACP awards for magazine design.

In a national competition sponsored by the Baptist Communicators Association for 2019-2020, Baylor University received 14 first place and six second place awards. These included a first place award for the Baylor Lariat in the Overall Publication category, and eight first place awards in categories covering broadcast TV, social media, podcasts, mobile apps and audiovisual editorials.

Regional awards

Each year, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) presents the Mark of Excellence Awards, honoring the best in student journalism. The awards offer categories for print, radio, television and online collegiate journalism. Entries are first judged on the regional level, and then first place regional winners advance to the national competition.

In the regional SPJ competition, Baylor students Rewon Shimray and Josh Whitney won first place in the Mark of Excellence photo illustration category, and will advance to national competition. Baylor University was a regional finalist in 10 other Mark of Excellence categories, including both “Best All-Around TV Newscast” and “Best Affiliated Website” for the Baylor Lariat.

State awards

Baylor students have won 35 awards for their work this year from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA). The top first place TIPA awards include overall excellence awards for both the Baylor Roundup yearbook and the Lariat TV News, as well as “Reporter of the Year,” won by 2019 Baylor journalism graduate Kennedy Dendy, and “Designer of the Year,” won by junior University Scholar Camille Rasor.

The 15 first place TIPA awards won by Baylor students include:

  • Overall excellence (yearbook) — Roundup staff
  • Overall excellence (television) — Lariat TV News staff
  • Reporter of the Year — Kennedy Dendy
  • Designer of the Year — Camille Rasor
  • Headline writing — Ben Everett and Thomas Moran
  • Sports column — Cameron Stuart
  • Feature news reporting (video) — Igor Stepczynski
  • Multimedia sports feature — Lariat staff
  • Newscast (video) — Lariat TV news staff
  • Editorial cartoon — Rewon Shimray
  • Advertising/PSA/promo video — Abigail Lesh
  • Best use of social media (breaking news) — Lariat staff
  • Feature page design (newspaper) — Thomas Moran
  • Editorial page design — Rewon Shimray
  • Sports page/spread design — Brittany LaVergne

“So far this year, Baylor Student Media has won 116 state, regional and national awards, and we expect that list to grow as more organizations announce their recipients in the next few months,” Gietzen said.

Gietzen added that the recognition Baylor’s print and broadcast journalists receive each year help them when they approach the competitive and ever-changing job market.

“Baylor’s student publications are recognized nationally for their work, and employers hire our graduates because they realize the quality of our students and the value of the practical experience they get in the Lariat and Roundup newsrooms,” Gietzen said. “News editors and directors want to know grads will be productive as quickly as possible, and Baylor’s young journalists have been able to do that at print and broadcast entities across the country.”

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