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Media Department Students, Staff Receive Honors


JONESBORO – Students and staff members in the Department of Media at Arkansas State University recently earned national and regional recognition from the College Broadcasters Inc., Associated Collegiate Press/College Media Advisers, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Media Winners
A-State senior Miranda Reynolds of McCrory and Delta Digital News Service adviser Ronald Sitton hold SPJ Diamond Journalism Awards won by students and staff at Arkansas State University. The annual SPJ-Arkansas Pro chapter awards banquet was held at Little Rock’s Flying Saucer in the River Market district. (Photo by Caran Swanson Pitts).

Red Wolf Radio, the student-operated online radio station, won CBI’s “Best Documentary/Public Affairs Radio” at its meeting in Seattle, Wash., and ACP/CMA’s “Best Radio Special Event Coverage” at the National College Media Convention in Louisville, Ky., for the documentary “Bi Bi Bi,” produced in conjunction with associate professor Sandra Combs’ “Race, Gender and Media” course. The piece also earned second place in SPJ’s “Radio/Podcasts Documentary/Investigative Reporting” in Little Rock.

“To be recognized nationally by two major student media organizations is something our students should be proud of,” said Red Wolf Radio faculty adviser Larz Roberts. “Our students do excellent work, so having separate national organizations honor that work like that tells everyone that our department, our students are the real deal.”

Overall, student publications and KASU’s Ann Kenda won two first-place, two second-place and three third-place Diamond Journalism Awards at the SPJ-Arkansas Pro chapter’s annual awards banquet.

In addition to Red Wolf Radio’s award, the Delta Digital News Service won a first-place multimedia award for its 20th anniversary retrospective of the Westside school shootings (deltanewsservice.com/2018/03/16/westside20/). Students interviewed survivors to explore how the shootings continue to affect the community two decades later.

 “It’s an honor just to have student work in the finals against professional work,” DDNS adviser Ronald Sitton said. “To actually have them win — I cannot adequately express how proud I am of the work they accomplished.”

A-State students working on the project included DDNS editor-in-chief Kimberely Blackburn, Tucker Crain, Miranda Reynolds, Katie Woodall, Christopher Lee, Seth Cleveland and Ammar Taqi. Students worked in KASU news director Johnathan Reaves’ advanced reporting class, Roberts’ reporting for electronic media class, and assistant professor Gabriel Tait’s advanced photography class before submitting to the news service.

“This professional recognition of the work by our student media staff and students is a momentous honor for our journalism degree program,” said Dr. Osabuohien Amienyi, chair, media department. “It shows that our program continues to prepare the best and brightest students for the journalism professions. I congratulate the student winners and KASU staffer, Ann Kenda, for receiving this wonderful validation of their work by the SPJ.”

In addition to the DDNS staff honor, individuals also received recognition for their work.

Former DDNS editor Blackburn won first place in the student journalism feature category for her profile of KASU’s retiring director, Michael Doyle. She earned second place in student journalism news for her story on area organizations helping the homeless. Originally from Paragould, Blackburn now works as the managing editor at The Excelsior Springs Standard in Excelsior Springs, Mo.

Reynolds, a graduating senior from McCrory, earned third place in student journalism feature for her profile of Angela Yates, an emergency medical technician.

Former ASU-TV News reporter Cleveland took third place in television feature for his profile on Hannah Hall. Other finalists included professional outlets KLRT FOX 16 News and KNWA/KFTA.

“These awards demonstrate the excellence of our journalism program,” said Dr. Carl Cates, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Communication. “I appreciate the hard work of our faculty and students to be competitive in collegiate and professional levels of competition.”

Arkansas Public Media’s Kenda, who works with KASU community radio, won third place for her radio/podcast feature on Arkansas ranchers.

Arkansas State University’s media department gives students the opportunity to work in a professional setting through its student media outlets comprising Red Wolf Radio, Delta Digital News Service, ASU-TV, and The Herald, the 97-year-old campus newspaper. DDNS provides student content to media outlets at no charge.