SPJ 2020 Journalism Conference • Sept. 12-13, 2020



MOE awards honor students, help résumés

By Billy O'Keefe

By James Baetke
Colorado State University
To Jamie Trudel, being honored as one of this year’s national Mark of Excellence Award winners is not only a validation for his work, but it’s an added incentive to continue his pursuit in freelance writing.

Award winner Jamie Trudel pauses amongst the bustle after the Mark of Excellence luncheon on Friday. Trudel won for best non-fiction magazine article. (Photo by Roger Meissen, Truman State)

Award winner Jamie Trudel pauses amongst the bustle after the Mark of Excellence luncheon on Friday. Trudel won for best non-fiction magazine article. (Photo by Roger Meissen, Truman State)

“I feel that this award has helped me prove to myself that I am a solid writer and that hard work and dedication really pay off,” said Trudel, a 23-year-old recent graduate of Western Washington University.
Trudel won first place for best non-fiction magazine article, which dealt with the heart-wrenching story of two gay men trying to adopt a child they could call their own.
SPJ presents the MOE Awards annually during the national convention. About 270 turned out for this year’s event. The awards, which honor the best in collegiate journalism, offer 43 categories for print, radio, television and online. A total of 3,000 entries were submitted.
Some of this year’s recipients attended a special Friday luncheon in their honor, where New York Times reporter and author Samuel Freedman presented the keynote address.
Christine Tatum, SPJ president-elect, said the MOE Awards provide a good boost when it comes to supporting a young journalist’s career and professional goals.
“One of SPJ’s missions is to identify and honor outstanding journalism with hopes of encouraging journalists everywhere to meet the Society’s high standards of accuracy, fairness, ethical decision-making, diversity of thought and public service,” Tatum said.
“The students who are Mark of Excellence Award winners have demonstrated a commitment to these ideals just as they’re beginning their journalism careers. SPJ is pleased to salute them each year and to do everything in its power to support them as they continue to grow as professionals.”
Eric Gapstur, a 23-year-old graduate from Iowa State University, won a national MOE Award for a trio of cartoons that appeared in the university’s campus newspaper, the Iowa State Daily.
“I felt very honored to be recognized as a national winner.Ê I think it’s a great addition to my résumé and feel it adds a certain level of credibility to my portfolio,” Gapstur said.
Gapstur wants to eventually be a nationally known cartoonist.
“I’m going to continue various avenues of employment in the field of cartooning, and in a year or two I hope to see my cartoons nationally syndicated,” he said.
It was columnist Ethan Ramsey’s story of an athlete’s odyssey following his family’s exodus after Hurricane Katrina that won him a national MOE Award.
“I pouredÊmy whole life into thatÊcolumn every Tuesday,” Ramsey said. “People’s first reaction would be to roll theÊeyes because it’s sports.ÊNot true. I didn’t write whether I thought the football team would win.ÊThere are important issues andÊimportant people in sports.”
Ramsey is a junior sports editor on the Daily Orange at Syracuse University. He just finished an internship with the Buffalo News in New York.
“SPJ certainly hopes these students recognize that this award symbolizes a larger commitment — and obligation — to improve and protect journalism always,” Tatum said.




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