CWU News

CWU Student Journalists Earn Top Honors in National, Regional Contests

Observer coverTwo Central Washington University students won a national Mark of Excellence award this week from the Society of Professional Journalists for the photo illustration "Think Before You Ink!" from a cover of CWU’s student-run newspaper, The Observer.

The award comes on the heels of five regional 2013 Mark of Excellence honors received by The Observer and online publication Pulse Magazine at SPJ's conference May 3 in Portland, Ore.

Topping the list, The Observer was a regional finalist for best all-around non-daily student newspaper among universities of all sizes in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

“Just to be a finalist in a group that includes much larger universities is an incredible feat and shows how far we’ve come,” said Observer Editor-in-Chief Matthew Thompson.

“It’s really gratifying to see the students’ hard work pay off,” said faculty adviser Cynthia Mitchell. “We were the only finalist from Washington, and it was clear from the other awards that we were competing against several journalism programs in the state and against many more from the region.”

Thompson won top honors in Portland in the general news reporting category for his articles about CWU’s invalid charges to a student fund. Former student Zach Olney was a finalist for sports photography for his work on "College Rodeo 2013: Hooking the Horns."

Vicky Valdovinos and Seth Lonborg's photo illustration "Think Before You Ink!" shows a man from the neck to the waist wearing half a business suit and half a sleeveless shirt exposing a heavily tattooed arm. Valdovinos and Lonborg will be recognized at the Excellence in Journalism 2014 conference in September in Nashville, Tenn.

Pulse Magazine's former Editor-in-Chief Nathaniel Iven-Diemer, reporter Connie Morgan and designer Lindsey Antilla were finalists in the online feature reporting category for their multimedia package offering a video tour of CWU President James Gaudino's home in "CWU Cribs: Presidential Edition."

The Mark of Excellence awards honor the "best of collegiate journalism" from a calendar year in print, radio, television and online. The awards are judged by professional journalists. For more information about the contest or SPJ go to

Contact: Cynthia Mitchell, Faculty Adviser, The Observer,, 509-607-0124

May 9, 2014