By Megan Seals
The Cardinal & Cream, the student newspaper of Union University, was named the best college newspaper in the South during the Southeast Journalism Conference’s annual meeting at Troy (Ala.) University Feb. 17-19.
Along with other schools at the journalism conference, 10 students and two faculty advisers from Union’s newspaper staff sat as they waited for the final results of who would win “Best College Newspaper” in the South. It was the last, out of many, categories for the award ceremony.
Journalism programs from all over the Southeast were there to see who was the best among the best.
Dr. Michael Chute, professor of communication arts at Union and the publication’s faculty adviser, along with Jim Veneman, assistant professor of communication arts, took 10 Cardinal & Cream staff members to SEJC.
“I am extremely proud of our students and the extraordinary effort they put into each issue of the Cardinal & Cream,” Chute said. “Their showing in the SEJC competition is validation of their journalistic ability, hard work on the newspaper and dedication to the university as they attempt to provide the best student newspaper possible for the campus community.”
Union’s student newspaper has placed in the top-10 in six of last seven years, ranking second in 2005.
But the ranking this year marked the first time the Cardinal & Cream has reached No. 1 in the “Best College Newspaper” category in the Best of the South competition.
Other schools that ranked in the top-5 best college newspaper category were Mississippi State University, Louisiana Tech University, University of West Florida and Southeastern Louisiana University.
“I am so proud of the Cardinal & Cream staff for their hard work the past few years,” said senior journalism major Angela Abbamonte, editor-in-chief of the newspaper, said. “We have gone into each issue of the Cardinal & Cream trying to improve, and those efforts have shown in all aspects of the newspaper. I am thankful we could represent Union University in a competition such as the Southeast Journalism Conference.”
Thirty-three schools from eight states were eligible to submit entries in the competition. Participating schools included University of Alabama, Auburn, Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Mississippi.
Along with their No. 1 ranking in “Best College Newspaper,” the Cardinal & Cream’s website, cardinalandcream.info, ranked No. 2 in the “Best College Website” category.
The other top-5 ranked schools in this category were Belmont University, the University of Alabama, Florida A&M University and Harding University.
Only four schools — Union, Alabama, Harding and West Florida — ranked in both of these top categories, with Union ranking the highest in both categories.
While the Cardinal & Cream ranked well as a whole, staff members also ranked in other categories and in the on-site competitions held during the conference.
The individual winners included Katherine Pullen, junior journalism major, and Sarah Palmer, senior journalism major, who ranked No. 1 in the “Multimedia Journalist” category.
In the “Feature Writer” category, Margaret Brinson, junior journalism major, ranked No. 2.
Abbamonte ranked No. 4 in the “Journalist of the Year” category, the top individual award SEJC gives, and No. 10 in the “News Reporter” category.
Beth Spain, senior journalism major, ranked No. 3 in the “Press Photographer” category. She ranked first in this category last year.
Katie Shatzer, who graduated with a journalism degree in December, ranked No. 1 in “Journalism Research Paper” and No. 5 as “Editorial-Opinion Writer.”
In the “Newspaper Page Lay out Designer” category, Erica Davis, senior digital media studies major, ranked No. 3. Rachel Golias, senior public relations major, ranked No. 9.
Alex Brown, junior journalism major, ranked No. 7 in the “Sports Reporter” category.
In the on-site competitions, Union journalism students competed in 14 different categories along with 151 students.
Whitney Jones, junior journalism major, ranked No. 2 in “News Reporting,” Abbamonte ranked No. 3 in “Feature Writing” and Courtney Searcy, sophomore journalism major, ranked No. 3 in “Media Ethics.” Only the top three students in each category received awards.
“This year’s Best of the South and onsite competitions highlighted the strength of Union’s journalism program,” Chute said. “Not only did the newspaper show well in the ‘enterprise’ categories — best newspaper and website -— but our students did very well in the individual categories. “This is an outstanding group of students whose work on the newspaper has been exceptional.”