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



Emerson group wins sports honor

By Billy O'Keefe

By Amanda Dolasinski / Photo by Breanna Gaddie
When two Emerson College broadcast students decided to cover the Boston Marathon last year, they had no idea their story would catch CNN’s attention and win national awards.

Neil Ralston (left), SPJ vice president of campus chapter affairs, congratulates photo illustration national winner Zach Woodward Friday during the Mark of Excellence Awards Luncheon.

Neil Ralston (left), SPJ vice president of campus chapter affairs, congratulates photo illustration national winner Zach Woodward Friday during the Mark of Excellence Awards Luncheon.

They were just hoping to offer viewers a glimpse of a blind athlete’s life.
Ashley Porter and Richard Feindel, now graduates, won the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Television Sports Reporting category for their “Kick to the Finish” package.
Students across the country submitted more than 3,600 entries in 39 MOE categories this year. Entries that won on the regional level were entered into the national competition. Awards were presented Friday. (A complete list of winners is available here.)
For Porter, the story started when she spent hours reading through a list of runners looking for a unique story.
“There’s 25,000 people in the marathon and each of them has a story,” she said.
She settled on Alexander Mueller, a legally blind man who qualified to run in the famous 26.2- mile marathon.
Porter connected with Mueller on Facebook, where there was a group soliciting sponsors for his marathon run.
During the marathon, Porter spent time with Mueller’s sister. Feindel focused on the finish line.
The package was originally for the pair’s college television station, but CNN picked it as an iReport and it ran the following day.
The duo said the story prepared them for real world reporting.
The story was particularly difficult to shoot, Feindel said, because of the massive crowd. In fact, he wasn’t even sure he had caught Mueller’s big finish.
Porter is now a reporter for NBC affiliate WLBT in Jackson, Miss. Feindel is a new media producer for Channel 7 NBC/CW56 in Boston.
MOE Coordinator Lauren Rochester said the contest continues to attract more entries each year, particularly in online categories.
“We are one of the most competitive collegiate journalism competitions,” she said. “Our winners do excellent work.”




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