JACKSON, Tenn. – Feb. 13, 2012 – Union University journalism professor Michael Chute was named Journalism Educator of the Year and Union journalism students captured 14 awards in the “Best of the South” competition at this year’s Southeast Journalism Conference.
The conference was held Feb. 9-11 at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
SEJC includes 68 member universities from eight states from North Carolina to Arkansas. The 14 awards from Union University students were the highest total of any school in the competition. The university with the second highest number of awards was East Carolina with nine, followed by Ole Miss and the University of Alabama with eight each.
“It is quite an achievement to win 14 awards, and it is truly a testimony to the outstanding work of our students and to the strength of our journalism program,” Chute said. “Of course, I am proud of our students whether they win awards or not, but winning these awards is validation of their hard work, dedication and outstanding achievement.”
Union’s student newspaper, the Cardinal & Cream, won third in the “Best College Newspaper” category, behind Auburn and East Carolina, after winning first place last year. Chute said no school has ever repeated as winner in that category. The Cardinal & Cream also won fourth place in the “Best College Website” category.
Two Union students – Margaret Brinson and Alex Brown – ranked third and fifth, respectively, in the “College Journalist of the Year” category. Chute said no other school had two students rank in that category, and that in his years of association with SEJC, no school has ever had two students rank in the category. Brinson received $250 in prize money for her third place showing.
Other Union winners in the “Best of the South” competition were:
-- Katlyn Moncada, ranked No. 1 in the “Best Multimedia Journalist” category.
-- Katherine Pullen, Ebbie Davis and Brinson, No. 1 in the “Best Public Service Journalism” category.
-- Pullen, No. 1 for “Best Journalism Research Paper.”
-- Davis, No. 2 for “Best Press Photographer.”
-- James Summerlin, No. 4 for “Best Sports Writer.”
-- William Rowland, No. 4 for “Best Advertising Staff Member.”
-- Margaret Brinson, No. 5 for “Best Opinion-Editorial Writer.”
-- Alex Brown, No. 9 for “Best News Reporter.”
-- Kristen Marks, No. 9 for “Best Newspaper Page Layout Designer.”
-- Treasure Hightower, No. 10 for “Best News Graphic Designer.”
In addition to the “Best of the South” competition, Union students also performed well in SEJC’s on-site competition, finishing second overall in the team rankings behind Ole Miss. It was Union’s highest ranking ever.
Individual awards in the on-site competition included Brown, who finished first in “News Writing”: Brinson, second in “Copy Editing”; Grace Ferrell, second in “Current Events”; Summerlin, honorable mention in “Sports Writing”; and Pullen, honorable mention in “Feature Writing.”
The Journalism Educator of the Year award is given annually by the SEJC to an outstanding journalism faculty member who has been devoted to the field. A selection committee consisting of the past five winners of the award determines the recipient.
“It’s quite an honor for someone to be given this award, and Michael Chute is so deserving,” said Jeff Spurlock, past president of the SEJC and associate director of the School of Journalism and Communication at Troy University. “He’s been the vice president of SEJC for a number of years. He’s now the president. He has 35 years of journalism experience. I don’t think there was anybody more deserving to receive this award than Michael.”
Chute, who was also elected SEJC president for the next year at the meeting, said it was difficult to put into words what the award meant to him.
“It is such an honor to me, personally, to be selected for this award by my colleagues whom I respect so much for their contribution to good journalism in programs throughout the South,” Chute said. “I’m just humbled by that recognition as so many other journalism educators are definitely worthy of that honor, as well as the tremendous group of individuals who have been honored by this recognition in years past.”