UPDATE: Diamond Journalism Awards, Nov. 14, LR’s Flying Saucer

Judges have chosen the finalists in the 2017 Diamond Journalism Awards, a regional competition sponsored by the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The awards recognize outstanding journalism by professionals and students from Arkansas and bordering media markets in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

UPDATE: Awards will be presented at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Flying Saucer in Little Rock. Tickets are $10 per person, including heavy hors d’oeuvres and libations. Purchase in advance at arkansasspj.org or at the door. Guest speaker to be announced.

Here is a list of finalists by category:



Kirstin Pieri May, Arkansas State University; Stephen Thornton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


Jacob Kauffman, KUAR Public Radio; Jillian Kremer, Arkansas Online; Brandon Riddle, Arkansas Online.


Jackson Carter, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Emma Pettit, Arkansas Online.


Syd Hayman, Only in Arkansas.


EDITORIALS (All print)

Rick Kron, Jonathan Feldman, Garrick Feldman, The Leader, Jacksonville, Ark.; Jonathan Feldman, The Leader, Jacksonville, Ark.; David Barham, Paul Greenberg, Walter Hussman Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

COMMENTARY (Daily newspapers)

Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; John Brummett, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

COMMENTARY (Non-daily newspapers)

Rick Kron, The Leader, Jacksonville, Ark.; Tammy Keith, River Valley & Ozark Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Garrick Feldman, The Leader, Jacksonville, Ark.

HARD NEWS (Daily newspapers)

Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Noel Oman, Chris Bahn, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Andrew DeMillo, Kelly P. Kissel, Sean Murphy, Jill Bleed, Tafi Mukunyadzi, The Associated Press; Thomas Gounley, Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader.

 HARD NEWS (Non-daily newspapers)

Tammy Keith, Three Rivers Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Tammy Keith, River Valley & Ozark Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

HARD NEWS (Magazines)

Wyndham Wyeth, Arkansas Life; Jordan Hickey, Arkansas Life.

FEATURE (Daily newspapers)

Hunter Field, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Ellis Widner, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

FEATURE (Non-daily newspapers)

Tammy Keith, Three Rivers Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Sarah DeClerk, River Valley & Ozark Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Sarah DeClerk, Health Beat/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

FEATURE (Magazines)

Mariam Makatsaria, Arkansas Life; Sarah DeClerk, Health Beat/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Jordan Hickey, Arkansas Life.


Kara Harnett, Stone Selso, Olivia Moyers, Katelyn Mary Skaggs, Breanne Bleichroth, The Southeast Arrow; Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Lisa Hammersly, Brian Fanney, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

SPORTS (All print)

Jeremy Muck, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Johnny Carrol Sain, Arkansas Life; Bob Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

POLITICS (All print)

Michael Wickline, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; John Moritz, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press.

PHOTOGRAPHY (Daily newspapers)

Mitchell Pe Masulin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Jill Bleed, The Associated Press.

PHOTOGRAPHY (Non-daily newspapers)

David Scolli, The Leader, Jacksonville, Ark.


Arshia Khan, Arkansas Life Magazine.


Mitchell Pe Masulin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Arshia Khan, Arkansas Life.


Arshia Khan, Arkansas Life; Staton Breidenthal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Mitchell Pe Masulin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


Bonnie Bauman, Arkansas Life; Morgan Acuff, Little Rock Family; Wyndham Wyeth, Arkansas Life.



Jose Gómez, Rolando Ochoa, Univision Arkansas; Andrea Guzmán, Univision Arkansas; Mariana Rivero, Univision Arkansas.


Rodolfo Portillo, Univision Arkansas; Karen Pérez, Univision Arkansas; Univision Arkansas.


Aaron Nolan, KARK-TV.



Ann Kenda, Johnathan Reaves, Arkansas Public Media; Bobby Ampezzan, Arkansas Public Media; Jacqueline Froelich, Arkansas Public Media.


Jacqueline Froelich, Arkansas Public Media; Chris Hickey, KUAR Public Radio.


Jacob Kauffman, KUAR Public Radio; Karen Steward, KUAR Public Radio; Sarah Whites-Koditscheck, Arkansas Public Media.


Jacob Kauffman, Chris Hickey, KUAR Public Radio.



Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press; Hunter Field, Amanda Claire Curcio, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Lisa Hammersly, Brian Fanney, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


Emma Pettit, Arkansas Online; Jacob Kauffman, KUAR Public Radio; Brandon Riddle, Arkansas Online.


Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press; Eric Besson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Tammy Keith, River Valley & Ozark Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


Lisa Hammersly, Brian Fanney, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Staff, KUAR Public Radio and Arkansas Public Media; Frank Fellone, Lisa Hammersly, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.



Emma Williams, The Herald, Arkansas State University; Kimberely Blackburn, Caitlin Jancyz, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University.

Kimberely Blackburn, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University.


Marie Mitchell, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University; Darcy Hagood, KUAR Public Radio, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Jiayue Liao, Deltat Digital News Service, Arkansas State University.

The Central High Crisis and the Press — A media critique 60 years on


Join the Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Pro Chapter for The Central High Crisis and the Press — A media critique 60 years on at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13 at the Darragh Center Auditorium in the CALS Main Library, 100 S. Rock St. in downtown Little Rock.

A panel including, Ernie Dumas, Phyllis Brandon, Roy Reed, John Kirk and Tafi Mukunyadzi will discuss the 1957 press coverage of the Central High School Crisis.

Are you interested in getting more involved?

Looking for leaders.indd

The Arkansas Pro Chapter is looking to fill two vacancies on the Board of Directors. Check out the following duties and responsibilities of board members and consider applying. Applications are due by midnight Wednesday, Nov. 2. Two people will be selected at our monthly board meeting Nov. 9 to complete the current term, which runs through June.

Duties and Responsibilities
To ensure the health of the Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Pro Chapter, the members of the Board of Directors must be current on national dues and local chapter dues, if applicable, and be accountable for the following duties and responsibilities:

The Board of Directors meets monthly, and sometimes calls special meetings via phone or email. Board members must attend a minimum of nine monthly meetings during their July-to-June term of office, but strive to make it to all meetings or phone in. Absence from three consecutive meetings, or four or more monthly meetings during their term, will result in the appointment of a new director to the position.

Board members must actively participate in at least one of the following chapter committees: Freedom of Information Act, Programing, Contests, Membership and Marketing, or any other special committee designated by the president. Active participation may include planning at least one event in a year, advancement of the FOIA through lobbying, contributions to the chapter’s website, newsletter or social media campaigns, or other efforts determined by the board.


SPJ Arkansas Pro Chapter Board Member Application



Phone Number:

  1. Are you an SPJ member? If so, how long have you been a member?
  1. Do you have any past experience in SPJ at the student or professional level?
  1. List any boards, committees or organizations you serve in.
  1. Which SPJ committee(s) are you most interested in serving on?

    Programming, Marketing/Membership, FOIA, Contest, 2018 Regional Conference committee

  1. List a brief work history and any journalism/leadership awards you have received.
  1. Why do you want to serve on the SPJ board?
  1. What is one thing you would like to accomplish as a board member?

Submit completed application to Chelsea Boozer, SPJ Arkansas Pro president, at cboozer@arkansasonline.com by midnight Wednesday, Nov. 2.

Winners of the 2016 Diamond Journalism Awards

Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists
Announces Winners of the 2016 Diamond Journalism Awards

The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists today revealed the winners of its 2016 Diamond Journalism Awards, a new regional competition that honors excellence in online, broadcast and print journalism.

Judges named Jordan Hickey, a writer for Arkansas Life magazine, Diamond Journalist of the Year for a portfolio of his work.

“Scene setting, strong characters, complexity, and his ability to narrate while not stealing the voice of his characters all contribute to the strength of his work,” judges wrote. “His subjects hover below the ‘news cycle’ radar, but speak to larger issues that need the public’s attention.”

Hunter Field, a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper, was named Outstanding New Journalist, an award that recognizes the work of reporters who have five or fewer years of reporting experience.

“I was impressed by the statistical detail in all the stories, which shows the reporter has a knack for research and doesn’t cut corners seeking out detailed information,” a judge wrote.

Lisa Hammersly, a Democrat-Gazette reporter, received the Robert S. McCord Freedom of Information Award. McCord helped found the Arkansas SPJ chapter, lobbied to help pass Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act and served as SPJ’s national president in 1975-76. He died in 2013 at age 84.

Hammersly’s “clean writing makes a complicated issue clear for the public,” judges wrote.

Former Democrat-Gazette reporter Chad Day won the award for Community Service for a package of stories about the issue of jailing minors for actions that are not adult crimes.

“The writer and the editors should be applauded for bringing this seldom discussed issue and its impact on the community to the forefront of public consciousness,” the judges said.

Winners were named in 45 categories. Entries included reporting, photography and video produced between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. The contest solicited entries from throughout Arkansas and parts of five other states: North Louisiana, Northwest Mississippi, southern Missouri, eastern Oklahoma and West Tennessee.

Judges included professionals and academics from outside the contest area.

A full list of winners follows by category, place, entry name or title, entrant’s name, and publication or media outlet:


Feature Video – Online: 1st, Arkansas State Fair 2015, Stephen Thornton, Arkansas Online, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock.

Multimedia Project: 1st, The kidnapping and killing of Beverly Carter, Arkansas Online staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Arkansas’ obsolete and deficient bridges, John Moritz, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Sports – Online: 1st, MSU Swimming Features, Chris Bryant, KSPR-TV, Springfield, MO; Baseball Fans Meet “Chris” Bryant, Chris Bryant, KSPR-TV.

Education – Online: 1st, Education coverage, Gavin Lesnick, Arkansas Online, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Editorials – Newspapers: 1st, Election 2016 editorials, David Barham, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Personal Column – Newspapers: 1st, Philip Martin portfolio, Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, That’s Life columns, Tammy Keith, River Valley & Ozark Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Paul Greenberg portfolio, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Commentary – Newspapers: 1st, John Brummett portfolio, John Brummett, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Rebekah Yearout portfolio, Rebekah Yearout, Clarksdale Press-Register, Clarksdale, MS; 3rd, Arkansas Perspective commentary, The Associated Press.

Hard News – Newspapers: 1st, Execution Drugs, Claudia Lauer, The Associated Press; 2nd, Flooding, Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Conway cops, Debra Hale-Shelton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Narrative/Feature Writing – Newspapers: 1st, Donor’s heart beating, Rick Kron, The Leader, Jacksonville, AR; 2nd, Marshall Islands-Global Warming, Nick Perry and Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press.

Project/Investigative Reporting – Newspapers: 1st, Cash & The Court, Lisa Hammersly, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Jailing status offenders, Chad Day, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Judge-Sex Allegations, Claudia Lauer, The Associated Press.

Profile Writing – Newspapers: 1st, Michael Hunter Schwartz, Rachel O’Neal and John Sykes Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Dennis Zane Kuo, Celia Storey and John Sykes Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Cabot woman receives praise for longtime volunteerism, Syd Hayman, Three Rivers Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Minority Issues Reporting – Newspapers: 1st, Heritage tours, Brandon Mulder, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Confederate Boulevard, Claudia Lauer, The Associated Press; 3rd, Marshall Islands-Global Warming, Nick Perry and Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press.

Beat Reporting – Newspapers: 1st, Severe Weather, Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press; 2nd, Bill proposing to shut Aggie down to come up for Senate vote soon, Rebekah Yearout, Clarksdale Press Register; 3rd, Corrections coverage, Jeannie Roberts, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Sports Reporting – Newspapers: 1st, UAPB basketball, Troy Schulte, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Simply Red, Tim Cooper, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Political Reporting – Newspapers: 1st, Judicial Races – Money, Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press; 2nd, Presidential Politics, Frank Lockwood and Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

General Photo – All Print: 1st, Funeral for a veteran, Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Sprinklin’, Crystal Burns, Trenton Gazette, Trenton, TN; 3rd, Volleyball Champs, Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Spot News Photo – All Print: 1st, High-water rescue, Stephen B. Thornton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Bridge standoff, Stephen B. Thornton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, 13-acre fire in Searcy County, Stephen B. Thornton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Portraiture – All Print: 1st, “Arkansans of the Year” – December 2015, Rett Peek, Arkansas Life; 2nd, Myeloma Institute doctor, John Sykes Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Surgeon works to recruit women for orthopedics, John Sykes Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Photo Portfolio – All Print: 1st, Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Staton Breidenthal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Arshia Khan, Arkansas Life.

Photo Package – All Print: 1st, Rivers receding, rising in Arkansas; Highest LR crest since ‘90 expected, Stephen B. Thornton, Melissa Sue Gerrits, Staton Breidenthal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, 80th Arkansas Derby, Stephen B. Thornton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Old school swimmin’ pool, Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

News Page Design – Newspapers: 1st, Terry Austin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Feature Page Design – Newspapers: 1st, Walter Webb, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Sean Clancy, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Magazine Cover: 1st, Arkansas Life – July 2015, December 2015, June 2016, Kelley Lane, Rett Pek, Gately Williams, Arkansas Life.

Magazine Spread: 1st, “Day Tripper” – June 2016, Kelley Lane, Arkansas Life; 2nd, “Cheap Eats” – February 2016, Kelley Lane, Arkansas Life; 3rd, “The Natural State Parks” – October 2015, Kelley Lane, Arkansas Life.

Magazine News Writing: 1st, “A City Grows in Bentonville” – August 2015, Bonnie Bauman, Arkansas Life; 2nd, “Come Looking for Me If I’m Not Back” – March 2016, Paul McDonnold, Arkansas Life.

Magazine Narrative/Feature Writing: 1st, “Work in Progress” – January 2016, Katie Bridges, Jordan Hickey, Mariam Makatsaria, Arkansas Life; 2nd, “Leap of Faith” – February 2016, Katherine Stewart, Arkansas Life; 3rd, “The Story of Dal Santo” – September 2015, Nicholas Hunt, Arkansas Life.

Magazine Profile Writing: 1st, “Portrait of the Artist” – July 2015, Jordan Hickey, Arkansas Life; 2nd, “Artists in Residence” – November 2015, Jordan Hickey, Arkansas Life; 3rd, “The Gospel of Bigfoot” – April 2016, Nicholas Hunt, Arkansas Life.

Magazine Column Writing: 1st, “Hometown” – July15/Aug15/Sept15, Heather Steadham, Arkansas Life; 2nd, “First Taste” – Aug15/Nov15/Dec15, Emily Van Zandt, Arkansas Life.

Magazine Sports Writing: 1st, “Field of Dreams” – May 2016, Seth Eli Barlow, Arkansas Life.

TV Spot News: 1st, Arkansas Flooding Hurts Business, Rachel Dubrovin, Tony Nguyen, KSPR.

TV Feature Reporting: 1st, Jurassic Journey, Chris Bryant, Leigh Moody, KSPR; 2nd, In Sickness and In Health, Susanne Brunner, KARK/KLRT; 3rd, Detective, family of murdered teen discuss the case for the first time, Stephanie Garland, Ben Knaup, KSPR.

TV Investigative Reporting: 1st, Fact of Fiction: Bigfoot in the Ozarks, Chris Bryant, Lindsey Slater, KSPR; 2nd, Staudte’s Secret, Leigh Moody, Chris Bryant, KSPR.

TV Sports Reporting: 1st, Landers Inspiration, Mike Scott, KSPR.

TV Documentaries: 1st, Survive the Storm 2016, KSPR Staff, Bridget Lovelle, Kevin Lighty, KSPR.

Radio/Podcast Spot News: 1st, Graduating Seniors, School Superintendents Head Toward Summer Transition, Bobby Ampezzan, KUAR-FM 89.1.

Radio/Podcast Feature Reporting: 1st, 911 Systems in Arkansas Are Decentralized, Underfunded, Sarah Whites-Koditschek, KUAR-FM 89.1; 2nd, To Honor the Victims, They Demanded Better Words to Tell What Happened to Them, Christopher Blank, WKNO-FM 91.1 NPR for the Midsouth.

Radio/Podcast Investigative Reporting: 1st, Heritage & Hate: A Struggle Within the Confederate Legacy Movement, Jacob Kauffman, KUAR-FM 89.1.

Radio/Podcast Documentaries: 1st, Memorial Service to Be Monday For Longtime KUAR-KLRE Leader Ben Fry, Michael Hibblen, Karen Tricot Steward, KUAR-FM 89.1.

Radio/Podcast Sports Reporting: 1st: Little Rock Men’s Basketball Team Greeted by Jubilant Crowd, Chris Hickey, KUAR-FM 89.1.

Community Service – All Platforms: 1st, Jailing status offenders, Chad Day, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Outstanding New Journalist – All Platforms: Hunter Field, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Robert S. McCord FOI Award – All Platforms: Lisa Hammersly, Arkanasas Democrat-Gazette.

Diamond Journalist of the Year – All Platforms: Jordan Hickey, Arkansas Life.

#BlackLivesMatter in the Media with Shaun King

BLM flyer.indd

WHAT: #BlackLivesMatter in the Media, with Shaun King
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30
WHERE: M.L. Harris Auditorium, Philander Smith College
900 Daisy L. Gatson Bates Dr., Little Rock
WHO: Shaun King (New York); Malik Saafir (Little Rock); Ashley Yates (St. Louis); Richard Thompson (Memphis); Shahidah Jones (Memphis); Rae Nelson (Little Rock)
GET ENGAGED: Let your comments and questions be heard by using #BLMinMedia

Join us for a keynote address and panel discussion on how the Black Lives Matter movement has been covered in national, regional and local media.

Keynote speaker Shaun King is a senior justice writer for New York Daily News and a prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter movement. King has written extensively about the movement, covering discrimination, police brutality, the prison industrial complex and social justice in the wake of violence in New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, Ferguson, Missouri, Charleston, South Carolina and other cities.

The event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Pro Chapter and the National Park Service/Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site  in partnership with the Philander Smith College chapters of Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta.

Join the discussion: #BLMinMedia

LIVE STREAMING: We will live stream the event on the Arkansas SPJ Facebook Page.

Get more information and RSVP at the event page. https://www.facebook.com/events/196989484047703/

New officers and board

The board of the Society of Professional Journalists, Arkansas Pro Chapter met July 1 and approved a new slate of board members for the 2015-2016 year. The board also tentatively approved officers (listed below), but tabled final action until all officers could be present. The board’s next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. July 8 at Flying Saucer in downtown Little Rock. The board will meet the second Wednesday of every month.

2015-2016 Arkansas Pro Chapter Board

President: Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press
Vice-President: John Lyon, Arkansas News Bureau
Secretary: Sarah Morris, Jonesboro Sun
Treasurer: Rob Moritz, University of Central Arkansas

Board Members

Sonny Albarado, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Chelsea Boozer, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Sarah Campbell, Jacksonville Leader
Yavonda Chase, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Chad Day, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Jennifer Sue Ellis, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Sonny Rhodes, University of Arkansas—Little Rock

New Arkansas Pro officers


The board of directors of the Arkansas Pro Chapter held a telephone meeting last week to elect a replacement for Eric Francis, who had resigned after two years in office. Kelly Kissel was elected the new president, and stepped down from his office of treasurer. Sarah Morris was elected treasurer and, so long as there is no conflict in the bylaws, will keep her current post as secretary. John Lyon carries on as vice-president.

It’s been a pleasure serving Arkansas Pro as its president and I look forward to helping Kelly and the board do many great things with our chapter!

Eric Francis