Chronicle receives national Mark of Excellence awards

By and

The Daily Utah Chronicle has been recognized as the second overall best daily college newspaper in the country.
The Society of Professional Journalists announced May 19 that The Chronicle and six individual staff members have been selected to receive national Mark of Excellence awards.
Former and current staff members said that this is the only time in recent memory that The Chronicle has been named one of the top three papers nationally.
“It’s the first time that I can ever remember,” said Matthew Piper, Chronicle editor in chief from 2007 to 2008. “I’m pretty shocked by it.”
The Chronicle also won first place at regionals as the Best All-Around Daily Newspaper.The paper entered more than 40 articles, photographs and cartoons for the contest. SPJ announced in February that 18 of those applications had won at the regional level and would advance to the national competition.
Columnist Aaron Zundel won the first place award for editorial writing. Chronicle staff members also won second and third place awards for editorial cartooning, radio news reporting, breaking news photography, photo illustration and online sports reporting.
Matt Canham, Chronicle editor in chief from 2001 to 2002, mentors Chronicle staffers and was proud to hear how well the paper had done.
“When I was there, we might’ve applied for some state awards but never got close to nationals,” he said. “I think over the years, there’s been a mixture between very talented students and professionals providing guidance that has led The Chronicle to succeed.”
Piper said the awards have a lot of credibility with professionals.
“We don’t always know if we’re doing a good or a bad job-to hear that we’re one of the best in the country is exciting,” he said.
Jim Fisher, a communication professor who has advised The Chronicle for the past six years, said he believes the quality of the paper has been consistent over the years.
“We have always had top quality journalists,” he said. “Absolutely nobody knows why judges pick what they pick. There are at least six entries I know we sent off that should have won first place and didn’t win anything.”
Sheena McFarland, Chronicle editor in chief from 2003 to 2005, said the awards are important for college journalists looking to apply for work professionally.
“It’s pretty impressive to put on a résumé,” she said.
McFarland mentored the news staff during the 2007-2008 school year and said that, as a mentor, one of the first things she asks staff members is if they want to be professional journalists some day.
“Usually three or four hands go up, but this year, every hand went up–there’s a lot of drive from the news staff,” she said. “It came down to students wanting to do their best.”
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