ULV students claim 15 Society of Professional Journalists regional awards

Andrew Alonzo
LV Life Editor

University of La Verne’s journalism students and recent alumni cleaned up in this year’s Society  of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence awards. 

The Campus Times brought home 13 honors, while the La Verne Magazine received two awards in the annual competition among colleges across California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam, which make up SPJ Region 11. 

The awards, announced March 24, include six winners and seven finalists for Campus Times, while La Verne Magazine boasted one winner and one finalist. 

La Verne reporters were honored across news categories including breaking news reporting, sports writing, breaking news photography, editorial and column writing, editorial cartooning, general news photography, feature photography and best magazine. The category winners move on to the national Mark of Excellence competition later this year.

Senior journalism major and current Campus Times managing editor Jocelyn Arceo was part of the team that won first place in Breaking News for last year’s alleged hate crimes.

She said the story, given the topic, was nerve-wracking to report. 

“It was go-go-go from the minute the info came out, so winning an award for that makes me feel like our work is really being acknowledged for what it is,” Arceo said. 

Senior journalism major and current Campus Times sports editor Joey Matsuzawa, who won first place in Sports Writing for a story about a bill that would allow college athletes profit from their likenesses, said the piece was one issue he felt strongly about as he poured hours of reporting and research into it.

“Even though it was one of my favorite articles to work on I never thought in a million years it would win or be recognized,” Matsuzawa said. “There are so many other publications in this region, so many other sports writers and I feel honored just to be recognized by the SPJ.”

Elizabeth Zwerling, professor of journalism and chief adviser for the Campus Times, praised the writers for their passion and said it is because of their determination to get the facts that journalism is alive and well.

“They are as good as the professional media,” Zwerling said. “They’re bold, fearless and tenacious when it comes to their reporting. They get it when it comes to news, what’s important, and about teamwork. I’m incredibly proud of them and the Campus Times.”

Eric Borer, production manager for the Campus Times, said the awards make him optimistic about Campus Times and future journalism.  

“I think it bodes well for the Campus Times on campus as well as showing the strength of the organization, the strength of the work we do and continue to do as a new generation of students come in,” Borer said.

The Society of Professional Journalists is one of the oldest, largest and best known journalism organizations with roughly 300 chapters across the U.S. and more than 9,000 media members. Aside from its annual contests honoring excellence in journalism, SPJ works to promote and defend freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and to support diversity and ethical behavior in student and professional journalism.

Andrew Alonzo can be reached at andrew.alonzo@laverne.edu.

The University of La Verne’s Winning Entries

Breaking News (Small Colleges):
Winner: Danielle De Luna, Layla Abbas, Jocelyn Arceo and Aryn Plax for “FBI LVPD investigate hate crimes
Finalist: Layla Abbas, “Law school to downgrade to California Bar accreditation

General News Reporting (Small Colleges):
Finalist: Jocelyn Arceo, “Student back after charges dropped

General Column Writing (Small Colleges):
Finalist: Jocelyn Arceo

Sports Writing (Small Colleges):
Winner: Joey Matsuzawa, “Bill would let college athletes profit
Finalist: Rex Sample, “Student athletes fight back against burnout

Breaking News Photography (Small Colleges):
Winner: Ariel Torres, “Vigil honors grief and healing after hate crimes
Finalist: Ashley Villavicencio, “Fashioning a fabulous Quinceañera
Molly Garry, “Bringing the storm

General News Photography (Small Colleges):
Finalist: Molly Garry, “Cultural Graduation

Feature Photography (Small Colleges):
Winner: Jaren Cyrus, “Chicken Charlie

Sports Photography (Small Colleges):
Winner: Veronyca Norcia, “Ortega leads Leos in SCIAC victory

Editorial Writing:
Winner: Campus Time Editorial Board

Editorial Cartooning:
Winner: Danielle De Luna 

Best Student Magazine:
Finalist: La Verne Magazine, Winter 2019

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