CWU News

CWU Student Media Recognized with Regional Awards

The Observer staff during their weekly design night

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) recognized Central Washington University’s student media in four categories at the annual Region 10 Mark of Excellence Awards. 

The Observer, CWU’s student-run newspaper, was a finalist in the Best Affiliated Website category. Crystal Clausen, The Observer’s online editor, sees her experience with the paper as an important piece of her education.

“Even though I never intended to work in the journalism industry, the skillset I have learned here sets me apart from other competitors in my field of business and marketing,” Clausen said. “The Observer has shown me that collaboration is a large part of any work team, and that when everyone works together to do their best, the best is produced.”

The Observer also was a finalist in the General News Reporting category for the story “Local First Responders and Police Work to Combat Fentanyl Overdoses” by Omar Benitez, Sean Bessette, Meghan Salsbury, and Star Diavolikis. It was Benitez’s first article as a member of The Observer staff, and the recognition bolstered his faith in his journalistic abilities.

“Going into this as kind of a rookie, it’s definitely a huge confidence boost for myself just knowing that I do belong here, and that my work is up to par,” Benitez said. “It was an extremely proud moment for me.”

CWU’s student-run lifestyle magazine, PULSE, was a finalist for Best Student Magazine and Best Affiliated Website. PULSE won the Arts and Fashion Journalism category with the article “Beyond Skin Deep,” by Spencer Clifton, Katie Jo Stewart, Kassandra Eller, and Lexi Wicks. Wicks, PULSE’s editor-in-chief, is excited to see the magazine break new ground.

“This is the first issue of the magazine to be awarded in the Art/Fashion Journalism category,” Wicks said. “Our winning story, ‘Beyond Skin Deep,’ is a true testament to the collaborative atmosphere PULSE has. The collaboration between writing, photography, and design comes together to explore the significance of Polynesian tattoos.”

Region 10 encompasses Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Winners at the regional Mark of Excellence awards go on to compete with the other 12 SPJ regions at the national level and are notified of the results in late spring.

About the CWU Department of Communication
Communication students practice every aspect of communication processes, from finding relevant information to delivering it to target audiences in person and through media channels. Students learn how to use today’s communication tools in labs equipped with the latest software used in the professional world. Learn more about CWU’s Communication department and its many programs.

Media contact: Rune Torgersen, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1264