After being elected the Society of Professional Journalists Region 12 coordinator at the national conference in September, Arkansas SPJ’s three-term president, Jennifer Ellis, resigned the presidency today at the chapter’s board meeting. She will continue to serve as a member of the board of directors.
The board unanimously voted to approve a succession plan put forth by Ellis naming Sarah DeClerk president and Wendy Miller vice president. DeClerk previously served as vice president, and Miller served as co-treasurer with Rob Moritz, who will continue as the sole treasurer. Maggie McNeary remains the chapter’s secretary. In addition to Arkansas, Region 12 includes, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
“Arkansas SPJ is in good hands. We’ve worked hard these last few years to improve and protect journalism in our state and I’m confident our chapter will continue to be a standout,” Ellis said. “I look forward to encouraging communication and collaboration throughout our region for a Society that’s as vibrant as we are.”
The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was named National Outstanding Small Professional Chapter of the Year for the second consecutive year at SPJ’s opening business meeting at the Excellence in Journalism 2019 conference in San Antonio on Sept. 5.
The chapter was a finalist for the award after being named a Circle of Excellence Award winner for a small chapter with fewer than 75 members in the area of student relations.
Circle of Excellence Awards recognize chapters that perform outstanding work in the areas of student relations (formerly campus relations), professional development, diversity and Freedom of Information Act/First Amendment. The winners in these categories are finalists for Chapter of the Year.
“Not long after the Capital Gazette newsroom shootings, the Arkansas chapter explored what it was like to report in the face of tragedy. A former TV anchor recalled her colleagues having to go on the air to report the news of their friend’s homicide. Other participants also told compelling stories. The chapter sold T-shirts to raise $500 for a fund to help the Capital Gazette,” said SPJ national president J. Alex Tarquinio.
The chapter was praised for inviting the public to events focused on immigration coverage, police and the press and FOI.
“One of the most fun events was called “Get the Scoop … and Check the Facts,” a traveling ice cream social. With actual ice cream scoops to give away, the series visited several college campuses and covered topics such as cultivating sources,” Tarquinio said.
“During Sunshine Week, one of the chapter’s FOIA blitz events was a FOI trivia game over pizza and beer. The chapter is helping to pay the cost of printing a state FOI handbook and is active in a state FOIA network,” she added.
SPJ’s 12 regional directors selected Arkansas Pro for these awards based on recommendations by the Directors-at-Large.
Chapter president Jennifer Ellis, Zoned Editions Editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was sworn in as SPJ’s Region 12 Coordinator at the closing business meeting on Sept. 7.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
A Sports Reporting Workshop For Rookies
5:30 – 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 21
North Little Rock High School
201 W. 22nd St., North Little Rock
Don’t just sit in the bleachers! Tackle the world of sports reporting with the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21. Come out to North Little Rock High School for an opportunity to tour the student TV station and the Charging Wildcat Football Stadium pressbox. Following the tour, professional , award-winning journalists will participate in a panel discussion about all things sports reporting. With topics ranging from Freedom of Information regarding high school and college athletics, to diversity in the field, this is a great opportunity to hear the Xs and Os from the pros. Oh yeah, and there will be pizza!
RSVP via Facebook or email Wendy Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, Aug. 20.
Make a donation toward the printing of the 2020 Arkansas Freedom of Information Handbook and enter for a chance to win an All-Arkansas Preps football autographed by LA Charger and former Razorback Hunter Henry!
Panelists: Bruce Guthrie, Searcy Daily Citizen; Dorian Craft, THV 11; and Jeremy Muck, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Moderated by Nate Olson, HitThatLine.com.
Arkansas Pro Chapter
Society of Professional Journalists
For immediate release:
The Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Pro Chapter is proud to present its new Mentor Match program, which aims to match less experienced media professionals and students with their senior counterparts.
Mentees would ideally be college students, interns, young reporters or journalists who would like some guidance. Mentors will likely have several years of experience, be editors or managers, or have an interest in giving back to the news community.
A mentee can also be a mentor – those with more experience are encouraged to give back.
Arkansas SPJ will host regular meetups to help foster the relationships between mentor/mentee pairs, starting with a kickoff event at 6 p.m. Monday, July 29, at Fassler Hall, 311 E. Capitol Ave. in Little Rock. RSVP for that event here: facebook.com/events/440198723241523/
Mentor Match aims to provide mentees with mentors in the Arkansas news industry. Mentee status is exclusive to chapter members, so join now at spj.org/join. Find your mentor (or mentee) through our application at tinyurl.com/spjmentormatch.
About Arkansas SPJ
The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists meets monthly for programs and networking in central Arkansas. Membership is available to all professional journalists in good standing with the national Society of Professional Journalists. Learn more about Arkansas SPJ at arkansasspj.org or follow us on social media.
The chapter was recognized nationally in 2018 as a Circle of Excellence Award winner for professional development and received the Outstanding Professional Chapter recognition for a small chapter.
Arkansas Pro Chapter
Society of Professional Journalists
For immediate release:
The Little Rock Civil Service Commission raised First Amendment concerns Tuesday by approving a new rule that allows its chairman to ban any means of recording during public hearings, and during a hearing for a fired police officer Thursday, officials ejected at least two people from the room for recording the proceedings.
As an organization that supports and protects the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists condemns the commission’s decision.
The new rule is bad news for news media and the local community. It also runs afoul of the Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act, which guarantees citizens access to public meetings and public records. Several attorneys general have opined that citizens have the right to record public meetings.
The timing of the adoption of the new rule is also suspicious, coming as it did two days before the hearing of fired police officer Charles Starks, who ignited public outrage after fatally shooting Bradley Blackshire of Little Rock. Commissioners maintain the timing is coincidental.
While the new rule states that the chairman “may” allow broadcasting that does not distract participants or impair courtroom proceedings, it still goes too far.
Since most Little Rock residents will not be able to attend the Starks hearing, community members will turn to the media for updates about the case. The broadcasting ban will hinder news outlets’ ability to disseminate information about this and other public hearings, thus restricting both media and public access.
While restrictions on court proceedings are sometimes necessary, effectively prohibiting taping of these public hearings places an undue burden on news gathering and inappropriately restricts access to public information.
It is worth noting that the new state law, which took effect Wednesday, July 24, requires public bodies to record their public sessions and to make those records available to citizens. While the law doesn’t address citizen recording of meetings, it shows lawmakers’ intent that public meetings be accessible to all.
We urge the Little Rock Civil Service Commission to reconsider and rescind its rule allowing its chairman to ban recording and broadcast of public hearings.
Signed on behalf of the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists,
Jennifer Ellis, president
Sarah DeClerk, vice president
LITTLE ROCK — A reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was named the Diamond Journalist of the Year, and reporters for the Jackson Free Press won the Community Service, Freedom of Information and Outstanding New Journalist awards in the 2019 Diamond Journalism Awards, sponsored by the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
The awards were presented June 25 at Little Rock’s Flying Saucer and honor work published or broadcast between Jan. 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2018.
The awards recognize outstanding journalism by professionals and students from Arkansas and bordering states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
This year’s competition included 162 entries judged by members of the East Tennessee Pro Chapter of SPJ, none of whom competed in the 2019 Diamond Journalism Awards.
2019 Diamond Journalism Award winners
Diamond Journalist of the Year (special award)
1st – Eric Besson of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Judge’s comment: Mr. Besson’s work displays exemplary attention to detail when it matters most – demanding accountability on issues affecting the public. Besson effectively and plainly states the facts for each investigation. He has also introduced me to my favorite new word: morass. Wonderful.
Outstanding New Journalist (special award)
1st – Ashton Pittman of the Jackson Free Press
Judge’s comment: Ashton Pittman provides impressive depth and context to his reporting. He brings a much-needed historical perspective to current political stories.
2nd – Hannah Grabenstein of the Associated Press
3rd – Clara Turnage of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Community Service (special award)
1st – Donna Ladd and Arielle Dreher of the Jackson Free Press for “Gang wars in Mississippi”
Judge’s comment: Excellent example of community-service journalism with a significant impact.
2nd – Lisa Hammersly of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Widow’s tax”
Robert S. McCord Freedom of Information Award (special award)
1st – Donna Ladd, Ko Bragg, Taylor Langele and Marie Weidmayer of the Jackson Free Press for “Transparency in officer-involved shootings”
Judge’s comment: While many questions are yet to be answered, the persistent coverage by the JFP to hold the police accountable must be applauded. This is seeking information and closure for the families affected by these shootings.
2nd – Ron Wood and Greg Harton of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “School superintendent’s firing”
Specialized website (any platform)
1st – Jeanne Roberts, Gavin Lesnick and Mitchell Pe Masilun of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “That moment of chaos”
Judge’s comment: Excellent use of multimedia tools for storytelling to allow the user to engage how they want. You can swim in the shallow end or go to the deep end.
2nd – Rachel Herzog, Brandon Riddle and Polly Irungu of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “From scratch”
3rd – Gavin Lesnick, Nikki Dawes, Ginny Monk, John Moritz and Ryan Tarinelli of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Violent reality”
Slideshow (any platform)
1st – Staff of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “2018 marathon”
Judge’s comment: Fun, entrancing photos capturing the fun for both runners and spectators of the marathon. Composition was great, as well as the reality of the toll taken from a marathon
Multimedia (any platform)
1st – Nikki Dawes of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Gun deaths”
Judge’s comment: A great way to visualize this investigation and compare gun deaths to existence-specific laws by creating a unique dataset based on independent data sources. This is the kind of community-service journalism that is the hallmark of a great – dare we say it? – newspaper. Thanks!
2nd – Gavin Lesnick and Jillian Kremer of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “2018 homicide map”
3rd – Staff of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Remainder of Salt Bowl canceled after fight at War Memorial Stadium spurs panic”
Video portfolio (any platform)
1st – Mitchell Pe Masilun of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “20 years since Arkansas school shooting”
Judge’s comment: none
Arts and culture (daily newspapers)
1st – Philip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for a collection of columns about culture
Judge’s comment: I love the way I’m drawn into these stories. The author is colorful in description without overdoing it. The author is either an expert in country music styles or did great research to draw the reader in.
2nd – Kelly Brant of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for a collection of columns about food
Health (daily newspapers)
1st – Kat Stromquist of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Surgeons gain new perspective with 3-D printer”
Judge’s comment: Kat Stromquist’s feature on the medical application of 3-D printing in Arkansas is a clear and interesting read on an incredibly complex topic. Her research, sourcing and reporting are comprehensive, but it’s her storytelling that truly shines. She writes with artistry and clarity in describing 3-D printed pediatric heart models. Her excellent organization, transitions and flow keep us reading, and she exhibits solid style throughout. Necessary titles and affiliations, which could be distracting, are easy to read without losing the thread of the story.
2nd – Emma Pettit of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “The search for mother’s milk”
3rd – Sarah DeClerk of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Family traits: Mother of five prepares three sons for lifelong sickle cell journey”
Politics (daily newspapers)
1st – Rachel Herzog of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for coverage of the Little Rock mayoral election
Judge’s comment: Excellent story telling. I found myself rooting for the candidate during his profile and happy he won. Great job!
2nd – Hunter Field of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for medical marijuana coverage
3rd – Andrew DeMillo of the Associated Press for coverage of the 2018 election
Sports (daily newspapers)
1st – Jeremy Muck of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Salt Bowl cut short”
Judge’s comment: Sportswriters are some of the best deadline writers in journalism because of the nature of their beats. They also have to be ready to become breaking-news reporters. Excellent job of covering a sporting event that became a deadline-news situation in an unexpected venue.
2nd – Bob Holt of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Perfect make, then miss”
3rd – Bob Holt of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Riches not Gafford’s driving force”
Investigative reporting (daily newspapers)
1st – Ginny Monk, John Moritz and Ryan Tarinelli of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Violent reality”
Judge’s comment: none
2nd – Hannah Grabenstein of the Associated Press for “Arkansas schools regularly suspend truant kids despite ban”
3rd – Stephen Steed of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “EPA scientists’ dicamba input went unheeded”
Feature (daily newspapers)
1st – Ginny Monk of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Girl’s mutation a rarity in world”
Judge’s comment: Excellent job in telling a story that can be difficult in discussing DNA and decoding it to find out the mysteries behind disabilities. The details show where this little girl is instead of just telling us the facts.
2nd – Clara Turnage of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Mother’s call for help ends with son’s death”
3rd – Hannah Grabenstein with the Associated Press for “Possible migrant site minutes from former internment camp”
News (daily newspapers)
1st – Bill Bowden of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Tourist boat sinks”
Judge’s comment: Excellent coverage of a tragic event.
2nd – Jill Bleed and Adrian Sainz of the Associated Press for “Bus crash”
3rd – Andrew DeMillo of the Associated Press for “Concern in Arkansas town highlights trade fear in U.S.”
Opinion (daily newspapers)
1st – John Brummett of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for a series of columns
Judge’s comment: Really enjoyed the commentary. Well-written and persuasive. The line about it being so hot satanists would willingly be baptized made me cackle. Nice job.
2nd – Elizabeth West of the Ville Platte Gazette for “Farewell to the boss man”
3rd – Philip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for a series of columns
1st – Johnny Carrol Sain of Arkansas Life magazine for “This little piggy went to market”
Judge’s comment: Interesting look into hog farming – in the past and the present, and the circle that it is taking. Apt comparison between how it used to bring communities together and now seems to drive them apart.
1st – Johnny Carrol Sain of Arkansas Life magazine for “One in the Sain”
Judge’s comment: The essence of sportswriting is to tell a story. Blending rich description and detailed memories, “One in the Sain” keeps the reader hooked until the end.
2nd – Jon Beilue of Hooten’s Arkansas Football for “Professional FASDOG trainer”
3rd – Dwain Hebda of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for “Big dreams: Greenbrier rider has goals inside, outside arena” in 501 Life magazine
1st – Heather Breed Steadham of Arkansas Life magazine for “Lady in waiting”
Judge’s comment: The humor and pacing of this as the writer reviews her pageant days versus what her daughter wants put this feature on top.
2nd – Dwain Hebda of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for “The wow factor” in AY magazine
3rd – Dwain Hebda of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for “The joker: Matt DeCample’s medicine is laughter” in AY magazine
1st – Jordan P. Hickey of Arkansas Life for “MLK gets his day (or The passion of Kelly Duda)”
Judge’s comment: none
2nd – Jacque Walsh, Nathan Poppe and Whitley O’Connor of the Curbside Chronicle for “Curbside Midterm Voter Guide”
1st – Dwain Hebda of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for a health series in AY magazine
Judge’s comment: My favorite piece was on ovarian cancer, “The silent killer.” I think you took a complex series of health topics and managed to capture the reader’s attention with a great hook and keep them engaged with beautiful, clear storytelling.
2nd – Dwain Hebda of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for “Reason to believe” in AY magazine
3rd – Dwain Hebda of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for “Left behind: Families and communities deal with life after suicide” in Mental Health Guide
Arts and culture (magazine)
1st – Seth Eli Barlow of Arkansas Life magazine for “Is this the best wine ever produced in Arkansas?”
Judge’s comment: This read more like short story, a wonderful break from reality with a heartbreaking twist at the end. The simplicity of the storytelling, taking us along on the journey from hearing of the tale to visiting the winery, just drew me in. This is probably the best article I have judged in any category this awards season. Bravo!
2nd – Dwain Hebda of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for “Thea Foundation builds moment in charge for arts education in Arkansas” in Soiree magazine
3rd – Dwain Hebda of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for “Primo! Ballet Arkansas” in Do South magazine
News (non-daily newspapers)
1st – Arielle Dreher of the Jackson Free Press for “Battle over education funding”
Judge’s comment: A very significant issue is that of school vouchers. This group of stories on pros and cons of public versus private educational funding used as a human interest story to personalize the issue of inadequate special ed funding in public schools and statistics that showed poor students who moved to private schools with vouchers actually did worse than those still in public school. It showed how a state issue soon became a national battleground, including funding from the Walton and Koch families. It also probed the difference between two plans proposed for the area. Thorough and a good roadmap for reporting on the issue in other communities.
2nd – Shawn Arraj, Rebecca Hennes, R. Hans Miller and Amelia Brust of Community Impact Newspaper for “Hurricane Harvey recovery continues”
3rd – Hannah Zedaker of Community Impact Newspaper for “Tamina community strives to salvage, restore submerged historic cemetery”
Health (non-daily newspapers)
1st – Linda Garner-Bunch of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette‘s Three Rivers Edition for “Led by faith”
Judge’s comment: Linda Garner-Bunch did a great job at taking a complex issue and breaking it down. She does a great job of balancing information with human emotion and storytelling.
2nd – Dwain Hebda of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for “Glory road: Morrilton survivor hosts 5K for cancer research” in Arkansas Catholic
3rd – Tammy Keith of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette‘s River Valley & Ozark Edition for “Russellville runner with autism blazes her own path”
Feature (non-daily newspapers)
1st – Danny Wicentowski of Riverfront Times for “The legend of Allen Barklage”
Judge’s comment: The writer hooked me completely with the drama at the bridge and then followed it up with the punch of the shooting and how it would haunt him. I wanted to know more about this man.
2nd – Rick Kron of TheLeader for a four-part series about suicide
3rd – Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia of Richmond Daily News for “A trial and trail of death”
Arts and culture (non-daily newspapers)
1st – Amber Helsel of the Jackson Free Press for “Food and culture in Mississippi”
Judge’s comment: Was pleasantly surprised by these stories. While I don’t typically enjoy food-type activities, the author draws one in by talking to the people behind the food and going from there. Well written with style that effectively had me feeling like I was in the food hall, observing some of what was going on.
2nd – Karen Craigo of the Marshfield Mail for “Hidden from view, June Moon Art Experience offers opportunity for creative expression”
Opinion (non-daily newspapers)
1st – Anthony Mariani of the Fort Worth Weekly for three columns
Judge’s comment: Your entries were clear, easy to read and powerful.
2nd – Donna Ladd of the Jackson Free Press for “Race, crime and dehumanization”
3rd – Rick Kron of The Leader for three columns
Politics (non-daily newspapers)
1st – Ashton Pittman, Donna Ladd and Amber Helsel of the Jackson Free Press for “Cindy Hyde-Smith: Segregation academies and hanging quips”
Judge’s comment: Entries were enterprising, in-depth and insightful.
2nd – Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia of Richmond Daily News for political coverage
3rd – Jack Flagler, Emma Freer and Christopher Neely of Community Impact Newspaper for “East side story”
Sports (non-daily newspapers)
1st – Dwain Hebda of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for “Holy roller: Campus minister competes in roller derby” in Arkansas Catholic
Judge’s comment: The writer has a rapport with the story’s subjects that shines through in the work. Very engaging, opening and creating interest in a story that could be bypassed by a reader in the hands of a less skilled writer.”
2nd – Wendy Miller of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette‘s Three Rivers Edition for “Raiderette”
3rd – Tammy Keith of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette‘s River Valley & Ozark Edition for “Mayflower running back named top offensive player”
Investigative reporting (non-daily newspapers)
1st – Danny Wicentowski of Riverfront Times for “#ThemToo”
Judge’s comment: This entry, cleverly titled “#ThemToo,” shows how enterprise and doggedness can contribute to the electoral ouster of a county prosecutor alleged to have, over many years, sexually harassed female employees. In a small rural county, it was easy for women to get redress. The reporter also found other attorneys and officials who bolstered the “bully” characterization of the prosecutor. It’s a classic example of how a newspaper’s duty is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Excellent work.
2nd – Matt Dulin of Community Impact Newspaper for “Amid lawsuits, Blue Ridge pledges to control odor”
3rd – Beth Marshall of Community Impact Newspaper for “Imperial market”
Design portfolio (print/online)
1st – Stan Denman of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Judge’s comment: Entry was well-designed with clean lines and best use of imagery/photos. Designer is well-versed in typesetting, as seen by their use of full justification that also maintains good tracking and kerning. Very few hyphens and widows/orphans. Visual hierarchy is keen and leads the reader through the articles efficiently and effectively. Designer’s ability to mask image backgrounds and composite is excellent. Designer also understands flowing text along organic lines to create more interest and readability. Spacing is clean and does not feel confined. Overall excellent.
2nd – Emma Devine of Arkansas Life magazine
3rd – Leanne Hunter of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Special section (print/online)
1st – Sarah DeClerk, Emily Partridge and the promotions team of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for Downtown Little Rock magazine
Judge’s comment: Clean design with good unity throughout. Nice title and subtitle design. Excellent use of color and unifying photos (color, saturation, curves, etc.) throughout the piece. Good layouts for a lot of information in a finite space.
2nd – Sarah DeClerk, Wendy Miller and the special sections team of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for Real Weddings in Arkansas
3rd – Sarah DeClerk and the special sections team of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette‘s Three Rivers Edition for the August edition of What Women Want
Photography portfolio (print/online)
1st – Mitchell Pe Masilun of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Judge’s comment: I feel like all of these photos captured a moment of extreme highs and lows of life emotions. Great use of light and framing was made. On first glance, I though the bubbles were snow, so that kind of drew me in. The choice of using framing to let the people be a part of the story about the bubble run and not the primary focus of the photograph makes sense. In the basketball photo, you can tell forethought went into the choice of close-up, wide-angle framing. The colors and lighting pop, and you can feel the energy the players are putting off. Overall, the first responders photo is the most compelling of the three images. It bring on a range of raw emotions – hope, fear, sadness, stress. Again, great framing. I loved the way each of these captured a scene that tells a story, and not just one aspect of the story.
2nd – Staton Breidenthal of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
3rd – Tommy Metthe of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Photo package/spread (print/online)
1st – Mitchell Pe Masilun of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Oaklawn opening day”
Judge’s comment: Really great set. Loved the feeling of excitement and anticipation all of the shots portrayed.
2nd – Mitchell Pe Masilun of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Arizona Bowl”
1st – Mitchell Pe Masilun of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “Injury, accident on I-30”
Judge’s comment: The photographer did a great job catching the agony of the moment.
2nd – Yvette Jagneaux of the Ville Platte Gazette for a photograph of a T-ball player leaping to make a catch
3rd – Staton Breidenthal of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for “A hands-on experience”
1st – Johnathan Reaves of KASU Public Radio for “Amid national school safety debates, Jonesboro marks anniversary of a middle school shooting”
Judge’s comment: Twenty years ago, school shootings were unheard of, even in Columbine, but not in Jonesboro, where two middle school students shot down five victims. As the tragedy is remembered now with a demonstration for stricter gun control, this report and four related ones explore how each ensuing shooting brings it all back to those still at the school and looks at the changes made since. Interesting and sensitive. Well done.
2nd – Ann Kenda with Arkansas Public Media for “Arkansas pork industry caught in the middle of trade trouble”
1st – Brandon Tabor of KASU Public Radio for “Red Wolves mascot turns 10 years old”
Judge’s comment: Great storytelling and use of various voices to present the full process of a mascot change and fan reception to it. The transcription of the interviews in the link is a great service. The interviewer has a great rapport with the guests.
2nd – Ann Kenda of Arkansas Public Media for “Champion duck callers flock to Stuttgart”
3rd – Chuck Livingston, David Wallace, Barry Groomes, Chad Hooten and Chris Hooten of Hooten’s Arkansas Football for “Delta Pest Control football report”
Documentary/investigative reporting (radio/audio)
1st – Ibby Caputo of Scene on Radio, the podcast out of Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, for “More than paper cuts”
Judge’s comment: none
Arts and culture (radio/audio)
1st – Jerome Weeks of KERA for “Artist Spotlights”
1st – Caitlin Sinett with KY3 and KSPR for “Marion County, Arkansas, road funds used to pay off judge’s legal fees”
Judge’s comment: This is a great example of why local journalism matters.
News (student – print/online)
1st – Kimberely Blackburn with Delta Digital News Service for “Organizations seek to help area homeless”
Judge’s comments: The reporter did a nice job of personalizing the issue of homelessness while taking a look at the resources available.
2nd – Keith Turner of Delta Digital News Service for “Northeast Arkansas hepatitis A outbreak continues”
3rd – Kayce Wilson of Delta Digital News Service for “Business provides pharmaceuticals alternative”
Feature (student – print/online)
1st – Christine Miyawa of Delta Digital News Service for “Deltayou: Redemption in six strings”
Judge’s comment: From the lede, the journalist brought me into the story and lead me on Cameron Todd’s journey. Excellent work.
2nd – Miranda Reynolds of Delta Digital News Service for “Honey bees impact Arkansas”
3rd – Destini Lattimore of Delta Digital News Service for “El Dorado seeks destination status via music”
Sports (student – print/online)
1st – Marvin Davis of Delta Digital News Service for “SBC champs back on track”
Judge’s comment: I’m not usually interested in track as a sport. However, this author’s profiles, both of the team as a whole and the individual competitors, drew me in with some great interviews. Good job!
Photo package/spread (student)
1st – Tristan Arquitt of Delta Digital News Service for “Roots Music Festival entertains Jonesboro”
Judge’s comment: Great choice of photos and layout overall.
2nd – Tristan Arquitt of Delta Digital News Service for “A river of Bluegrass runs through Paragould”
3rd – Madison Gomez of Delta Digital News Service for “6th annual ride benefits Memorial Gardens”
The Arkansas Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has announced the recipients of two $1,000 scholarships for the 2019-20 academic year and has named a new scholarship in honor of its first female member and president.
The winners are Lauren McLemore of Maumelle and Renato Betim of Fayetteville.
Lauren McLemore is a junior at the University of Central Arkansas studying journalism and sociology. She works as the associate editor for the university’s student newspaper, The Echo, and also freelance writes pieces for AY magazine and Arkansas Money and Politics. She said she hopes to use her journalistic training alongside her passion for justice and compassion to be successful in a career in media. She will receive the inaugural Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder Scholarship.
Schexnayder is a longtime Arkansas journalist as well as a pioneering leader in areas long dominated by men. Born at Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) in 1923, she graduated in 1944 from Louisiana State University, where she had served as editor of the student newspaper, the Reveille. She became editor of the McGehee Times in October 1944.
In 1955, Schexnayder and her husband, Melvin, bought the Dumas Clarion, owning the newspaper until 1998. Among her many firsts were becoming the first female member of what was then the Little Rock chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (now called the Arkansas Pro Chapter or Arkansas SPJ) and being elected the first female president of the chapter in 1973. She became the first female president of the Arkansas Press Association in 1981 and first female president of the National Newspaper Association in 1991.
Beyond her journalistic firsts, Schexnayder was the first woman named to the Arkansas Board of Pardons and Parole and was the first female president of the Dumas Chamber of Commerce.
Renato Betim is a junior at the University of Arkansas double majoring in journalism and political science. He has worked as a senior reporter at the Eagle View, the student-run newspaper of Northwest Arkansas Community College. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Betim said he hopes to pursue a master’s degree in journalism and report on politics and social issues that impact politics in his community and nationwide. In honor of the 200th anniversary of the Arkansas Gazette, which continues today as the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, he will receive the J.N. Heiskell Scholarship.
Heiskell, owned and edited the Arkansas Gazette for 70 years until his death in 1972. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his tenure.
The scholarship recipients will be honored at the chapter’s annual meeting and Diamond Journalism Awards ceremony at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, at the Flying Saucer in Little Rock.