Sunflower staffers snag regional SPJ awards


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Five staff members of The Sunflower have been recognized for producing the best journalism in their region.

Chance Swaim, Matt Crow, Brian Hayes, Matthew Kelly, and Ray Strunk took home Mark of Excellence Awards Saturday from the Society of Professional Journalists awards ceremony in Ames, Iowa.

The Sunflower competed in Region 7, which comprises Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa. The Mark of Excellence Awards “recognizes the best collegiate journalism in Region 7 with 2017 Mark of Excellence Awards winners,” SPJ said in a statement about the awards.

The works were judged by professionals with at least three years of journalism experience, and judges were directed to choose entries they felt were among the best in student journalism, the SPJ statement said.

The Sunflower competed in the “Large schools” division, against universities like University of Kansas, Iowa State, University of Iowa, Missouri University, and Nebraska University. School divisions are based on student enrollment, including both graduate and undergraduate. Large schools have at least 10,000 students and small schools have 9,999 or fewer students.

Swaim, The Sunflower’s editor-in-chief, won the editorial writing category for his editorials on the need for transparency, standing up for academic freedom, and urging the university administrator to tell the truth.

Swaim, Kelly, and Strunk won the news writing category for their story “Headcount Padding: Wichita State reports largest student increase in state.”

Crow, The Sunflower’s sports editor, won the news photography category for his photograph “Special Delivery.”

Crow and Hayes, The Sunflower’s photo editor, were finalists in the sports and breaking news categories for their photographs “Shooting on Market” and “Nearing victory.”

Winners will compete at the national level against other regional Mark of Excellence winners from the 12 SPJ regions in the fall. National winners will be notified in the late spring and will be recognized at the Excellence in Journalism conference in Baltimore.