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Ole Miss crowned Grand Champions for second year in a row at journalism conference


S. Gale Denley Student Media students from the University of Mississippi were crowned Grand Champions at the Southeast Journalism Conference this past weekend.

The two-day conference, hosted by the University of Tennessee at Martin, included two awards ceremonies.

The Best of the South rewards publications that were submitted between November 2010 to November 2011. There were more than 400 entries from a total of eight states. The categories range from best op-ed article to best college radio station.

Cain Madden, editor-in-chief of The Daily Mississippian, was named best news reporter in the Best of the South awards.

“I didn’t actually expect to get named best news reporter, but it felt pretty good to see my hard work rewarded at the end of the year,” he said. 

Miriam Taylor, an editor for The Ole Miss, the university’s yearbook, said she was shocked she won Feature Writing in Best of the South awards. Her work was submitted while she was studying abroad.

“I was really thrilled and really excited,” she said. “I had put my heart in those pieces. The subjects are great, great people, and it was great to tell their stories and to also get rewarded for it.”

The second awards ceremony was for the on-site competition held Friday. Participants entered in topics like on-site news reporting, radio reporting, news photography and TV reporting. Participants in those categories travelled through different areas of Martin, reporting on a simulated earthquake.

Other topics include copy editing, feature writing, sports reporting, media history, media law and media ethics.

DM design editor Kelsey Dockery won first place during the on-site competition. 

“I was shocked,” she said. “I thought I might place, but I didn’t think I would win. I never win anything.”

Aubry Killion, a special correspondent for NewsWatch 99, won first place for on-site TV reporting.

“I was elated,” he said. “I was so excited to know that I won. It’s a great way to rock my senior year. Also, I got to yell ‘Are You Ready’ afterwards, so that was cool.”

While most of the individual award winners were shocked when they received their awards, the group was not surprised the school ended up on top.

“Every person (at the S.Gale Denley Media Center) is so good at what they do,” Taylor said. “We deserve that award. It’s a direct reflection on the hard work done at the media center and in the J-school as well.”

Madden was part of last year’s crew that was named also Grand Champions.

“I think it’s great that Ole Miss has this tradition at winning, at least in journalism competitions,” he said. “I’m happy to have contributed in whatever small way I could to that tradition.”

Dockery said she was excited when they announced Ole Miss as first place winners.

“I really thought it was going to be (University of) Louisiana in Lafayette, they were being called on a lot,” she said. “I think our preparation as a daily paper prepares us better for on-site competition. It really gives us an advantage.”

Sixteen Ole Miss students and SMC director Patricia Thompson attended the conference.

“We are so proud of our students and their performance,” she said. “They spend many hours each day producing outstanding journalism, and it’s gratifying to see their talent and hard work rewarded.”  

Other Best of the South winners include Josh Clark, first place for best news-editorial artist/illustrator; Stephen Quinn, third place for best television journalist; Austin McAfee, third place for best press photographer; Victoria Boatman, fifth place for best news graphic designer; NewsWatch 99, fifth place for best college TV station; and Petre Thomas, seventh place for best news graphic designer.

Other on-site winners include Stewart Pirani, second place for radio news reporting; Cain Madden, second place for media law; Jon Haywood, second for media history; and the team of Bracy Harris, Margaet Ann Morgan and Gerard Manogin, third place for media ethics.

Next year’s SEJC will take place at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.