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A-State News Outlets Win Diamond Journalism Awards


JONESBORO – Arkansas State University news outlets brought home Diamond Journalism Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Region, Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the annual SPJ banquet in Little Rock.

A-State outlets including The Herald, the Delta Digital News Service and A-State’s public broadcasting service KASU 91.9 FM received recognition at the banquet held at the Flying Saucer in the River Market district. KASU’s news director Johnathan Reaves and Arkansas Public Media reporter Ann Kenda won for their work simulcast on Arkansas Public Media.

The awards recognize outstanding journalism by professionals and students from Arkansas and bordering media markets in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The awards honor work published or broadcast between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017.

“We are very proud of our students and colleagues,” said Dr. Ronald Sitton, adviser to the Delta Digital News Service. “Considering DDNS has only been operating for a year, it’s a credit to their hard work to be recognized by one of the most prestigious organizations in the media industry. As the news service grows, future staff members will strive to meet their standard.”

“These awards demonstrate the comparative advantage A-State has built as an educational center for media excellence,” said Dr. Osa’ Amienyi, chair of the department of media. “It is a credit to our student media faculty advisers that our students’ works can compete alongside professionals and win.”

Journalists from the Florida Pro Chapter of SPJ judged 64 entries in this year’s competition. The following divisions show both the professional/amateur contests as well as the student journalism contests featuring A-State winners (in bold face.)

1st Place: Stephen Thornton, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Flooding along the Black River.”

2nd Place: Kirsten Pieri May, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University for “Paragould man keeps blacksmithing tradition alive.”

3rd Place: Stephen Thornton, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Broadway Bridge aerial tour.”

1st Place: Bobby Ampezzan, Arkansas Public Media for “Bundle of bills highlight how tricky, fragile are Freedom of Information laws.”

2nd Place: Jacqueline Froelich, Arkansas Public Media for “Arkansas, Oklahoma scientists grapple with industrial earthquakes.”

3rd Place: Ann Kenda, Johnathan Reaves, Arkansas Public Media for “White nationalists rally in Batesville amid fuller complement of police, counter-protesters.”


1st Place: Kimberely Blackburn, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University for “Controversy surrounds death penalty drug.”

2nd Place: Kimberely Blackburn, Caitlin Jancyz, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University for “Immigration ban sparks concern.”

3rd Place: Emma Williams, The Herald, Arkansas State University for “A-State students’ film project triggers campus lockdown.”


1st Place: Marie Mitchell, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University for “Juke joint piano finds new home.”

2nd Place: Darcy Hagood, KUAR Public Radio, University of Arkansas at Little Rock for “Photography exhibit explores Arkansas family’s grief.”

3rd Place: Jiayue Liao, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University for “Delta You: Bradley Ledgerwood’s fight.”

A-State alumnus Chris Bahn also received recognition with Noel Oman for their story, “Bridge falls … after a bit,” written for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Their entry tied for third place in Hard News (Daily Newspapers). Bahn, a 2017 Dr. Joel Gambill Media Professional in Residence speaker, now works with the Arkansas Business Publishing Group.

Additional results may be viewed at the SPJ Arkansas Pro Chapter’s website at https://arkansasspj.org.