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FAMU Journalism Program Brings Home Top Honors at Two National Competitions

Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) School of Journalism & Graphic Communication (SJGC) continues to add to its legacy of student journalism excellence.

Last month, the student publication Journey magazine was named “Best College Magazine of the South” at the Southeastern Journalism Conference (SEJC) in Lafayette, La.

“My staff and I worked so hard," said Gina Cherelus, Journey magazine’s editor-in-chief. “It's hard to even put into words how much time and sleep we sacrificed to produce these issues. It's a great and humbling feeling to be recognized for it.”

Cherelus, a broadcast journalism student from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., also placed second in magazine writing at the competition.

Journey's managing editor and former FAMU-TV 20 news anchor, Natalie Johnson, a broadcast journalism student from Miami, placed fifth in television news feature reporting.

The Famuan student newspaper, which recently became one of the few college papers in the nation to adopt an all-digital format, was named the SEJC’s second “Best College Website.”

Nolan McCaskill, the Famuan’s editor-in-chief, placed third in the College Journalist of the Year category and was named among the top 10 “Best Special Event Reporters/Editors.”

"It’s amazing to have my name called among so many talented students as a 'Journalist of the Year,'" said McCaskill, a broadcast journalism student from Ocala, Fla.

Earlier this month, McCaskill and his staff also learned that they received top honors at the Black College Communication Association’s (BCCA) Excellence in Journalism contest held in Prairie View, Texas.

The Famuan received a first-place award in the Best Sports Feature category for McCaskill’s, “Moving the Chains” article, which chronicles the trials and triumphs of a FAMU student athlete.

In addition to their first-place honor, the Famuan staff also earned two second-place awards in the Best News Series, Investigation or In-depth Story category and the Best Spot News Story category.

Randall Gines, a graphic design student from St. Port John, Fla., and Marc Betancourt, a reporting student from Orlando, Fla., secured honorable mentions in the Best Sports Coverage category.

Donovan Harrell, a reporting student from Daytona Beach, Fla., received an honorable mention in the Best Signed Commentary or Column Writing category.

The Famuan staff was also acknowledged with an honorable mention in the Best Editorial category.

Valerie White, Ph.D., BCCA chair and SJGC associate professor, said she is proud of the student journalists for maintaining an active student media presence though many campus news organizations are dealing with funding cuts and declining interests among students.

“These campus journalists and their advisers realize the importance of having an active press,” White said. “Without it, our campuses miss an important opportunity to stay informed, and in the process, make good use of the First Amendment. Campus media also provide students the opportunity to practice their craft so that they might make a contribution to the greater society.”
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