Howard University students in the Department of Journalism took home top honors in the Mark of Excellence Awards presented at the Society of Professional Journalists Region 2 conference at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott in Virginia. The awards included:
Best Independent Online Student Publication
- First Place: Howard University News Service
Online In-Depth Reporting
- First Place (and national finalist): Howard University News Service for food desert series
- Second Place: Candace Smith, ABC on Campus bureau chief, for “Too Broke for the Vow of Poverty.”
With two first place awards, HowardUniversityNewsService.com will compete with first-place winners from all 12 SPJ regions for Best Independent Online Student Publication. It will also compete nationally for Online In-Depth Reporting, awarded for its eight-part series on food deserts in Washington, D.C. National winners will be announced in May and honored at the SPJ national convention Sept. 25-27 in New Orleans.
In the food desert series, “Eating for Life,” student journalists noted that fast food and liquor are easier to find than fresh fruits and vegetables in some parts of the nation’s capital. Through an eight-day serial narrative, they examined why food deserts exist and what can be done about them.
Issues covered in the series included the lack of supermarkets in some areas, limited access due to transportation or finances, health, cultural factors, corner-store initiatives to provide fresh produce, farmer’s markets and inequitable prices for certain food items.
Candace Smith, bureau chief of ABC on Campus and a graduating senior in broadcast journalism, won second place in the Television Feature category for “Too Broke for the Vow of Poverty.” The feature examined why “aspiring nuns must be debt-free before they can join the sisterhood.”
Smith traveled to Norfolk with two graduating seniors in print/online journalism, Royce Strahan, editor/producer of the news service, and Genet Lakew, who worked for the news service during fall semester and is also managing editor of The Hilltop. They were accompanied by Peggy Lewis, assistant professor and coordinator of the Broadcast Journalism Sequence, and Yanick Rice Lamb, associate professor and coordinator of the Print/Online Journalism Sequence.
The reporters for the food desert series, all of whom graduated in May 2010, were Sophia Adem, Nicole Austin, Crystal Cranmore, Kendra Desrosiers, Makula Dunbar, Eboni Farmer and Simone Pringle. They also worked with independent author and journalist Andrea King Collier, who was a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow.
Lamb and Phillip Dixon, chairman of the Department of Journalism, are advisers to HowardUniversityNewsService.com (Twitter: HUNewsService). Valerie Cummings, assistant professor in broadcast journalism, is adviser to ABC on Campus, one of only six bureaus in the United States.