Business News for the Mississippi Delta

UM Journalism Students Win Awards in Three Separate Contests

By Christina Steube

University of Mississippi journalism students working in newspaper, television and radio won more than 50 awards in three separate regional contests this spring.

The Daily Mississippian, led by Editor-in-Chief Clara Turnage and advised by Patricia Thompson, assistant dean for student media in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, was named best daily newspaper in the Society of Professional Journalists Region 12, competing against college newspapers at the largest universities in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana.

NewsWatch Ole Miss, under the leadership of station manager Payton Green advised by journalism professor Nancy DuPont, won first place for best newscast.

“What a spectacular year for our student journalists,” Thompson said. “Our students have been honored so often in the past few weeks, it has been hard to keep track. Students work many hours each week to provide information for the campus and community, and they are getting great experience that has helped them land jobs and internships.”

The Daily Mississippian and NewsWatch will compete against winners in the other 11 regions for national titles. National winners will be announced later this month.

The Daily Mississippian won first place for public service in the “Best of the South” awards at the Southeast Journalism Conference for its “Red Zone” special section focused on sexual assault issues, published Oct. 27, 2016. The SEJC includes competitors from more than 40 universities in seven Southeastern states and was hosted on the Ole Miss campus this year.

The DM won numerous first-place awards at the Mississippi-Louisiana Associated Press contest as well, including general excellence, breaking/spot news and for its website. NewsWatch also won a first-place award in this contest for best sportscast.

Several students, including Turnage, took home individual awards. The senior from New Hebron was honored with eight awards in three contests, including first-place honors for feature writing, general news reporting and enterprise-investigative reporting. She won a newspaper “Best of Show” award from the Associated Press and finished second in SEJC’s prestigious College Journalist of the Year competition.

Turnage said she is thankful for her time at the DM.

“This has been an incredible year,” she said. “I’ve dreamed of being editor-in-chief since I came to Ole Miss and it was everything I wanted it to be.

“I think we got the opportunity to work on difficult, important subjects for the community, and that’s what we wanted to do. The awards the DM staff won are an important marker of the hard work we put into our publication. They’re not the reason we work hard, but I love seeing the editors and reporters get recognition for their efforts.”

Turnage has accepted a summer internship with the Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington, D.C. She is among only three interns hired, along with a student from UC-Berkeley and another from Columbia University.

Other students who won first-place awards in the Associated Press, SEJC and Society of Professional Journalists contests are:

Italiana Anderson, a senior from Ridgeland, for radio documentary in the AP competition

Cameron Brooks, sophomore from Houston, Texas, sports photos, AP

Ariel Cobbert, junior from Hattiesburg, breaking news photos, SPJ

Lana Ferguson, junior from Mechanicsville, Virginia, magazine writing, SEJC

Payton Green, December graduate from Pascagoula, TV breaking news, SPJ

Lauren Layton, junior from Huntsville, Alabama, TV breaking news, SPJ

Sara McAlister, sophomore from Potomac, Maryland, radio sports, AP

Zoe McDonald, senior from Brandon, feature writing, SEJC

Billy Rainey, senior from Jackson, radio news and radio Best of Show, AP

Brian Scott Rippee, senior from Jackson, sports enterprise/feature, AP

Jake Thrasher, junior from Birmingham, Alabama, personal column writing, AP

The UM journalism school’s advanced reporting and television documentary classes also were honored with a first-place award from the AP for Best Student Documentary. Led by journalism professors Brad Schultz and Kathleen Wickam, the classes produced a half-hour documentary titled “Mississippi Votes: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” focused on Mississippi’s role in the 2016 general election, specifically in regards to voter identification, immigration and young voters.

“Having now won this award three years in a row, it’s a reflection of the hard work our documentary and reporting students have put in,” Schultz said. “To start a documentary project in late August and have an award-winning product finished by early December shows the quality of our students.”

The documentary can be seen at

“Mississippi Miracle,” a depth report about the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, was named a finalist in the SPJ contest. The report was produced by student journalists in a class led by instructor Bill Rose, assistant professor Mikki Harris and instructor Emily Bowen-Moore.

Second- and third-place winners and finalists representing Ole Miss are:

Hayden Benge, a sophomore from Tulsa, Oklahoma, for page layout and design

Chandler Morgan, senior from Kennesaw, Georgia, TV news

Marisa Morrissette, junior from Oxford, graphic design

Riley Mueller, junior from College Station, Texas, radio sports

Daniella Oropeza, senior from Clinton, TV hard news

Megan Peoples, freshman from Columbus, radio sports

DeAndria Turner, freshman from Gautier, radio feature