CWU News

CWU Student Journalists Excel in Regional Contest, Claiming 14 Awards

Student journalists from Central Washington University have once again stood out among their peers, taking home 14 Mark of Excellence awards in the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) regional contest this spring.

CWU’s student-run newspaper, The Observer, won in the Best Sports Reporting and Editorial Cartooning categories and was a finalist for six other awards. The eight total honors were the most for any Washington university in the large-school division (enrollment of 10,000 or more). PULSE Magazine won three regional categories — Best Affiliated Website, Best Use of Multimedia, and Data Visualization — and had two other finalists, while CentralNewsWatch won for TV Breaking News Reporting. 

Region 10 includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. All entries were judged by professionals from around the country. The SPJ recognition follows five "Best of Show" awards The Observer and PULSE students brought home earlier this yearfrom the national Associated Collegiate Press College Media Convention in San Francisco. 

“Once again, the work of Central’s student journalists has been deemed to match that of students from journalism programs many times our size,” said Francesco Somaini, chair of CWU’s Department of Communication. “We may be a relatively small program, but we are mighty.”

First-place winners will compete at the national level against other regional Mark of Excellence winners from the 12 SPJ regions. Winners will be announced later this spring. View the full list of Region 10 winners at The SPJ contest winners from CWU are:

• PULSE: Best Affiliated Website — Joanna Santana, website manager; Best Use of Multimedia, for “Trout Conservation in the Teanaway Watershed” — Kyle Wilkinson, Zahn Schultz, Madeline Wilson, and Anthony Cole; Data Visualization, for the recycling story, “Littered” — Mason Elliott, Krista Kok, Matthew Conrardy, Bailee Wicks (’19). 

• The Observer: Sports Writing — Bryce Weedman, for a story about a defining moment for the CWU softball team in 2008; Editorial Cartooning — Teagan Kimbro, for three entries from spring through fall quarters.

• CentralNewsWatch: TV Breaking News Reporting — Daisy Hernandez (’19), for her coverage of the memorial of fallen Kittitas County Deputy Ryan Thompson.


CWU finalists in the 2020 Mark of Excellence contest were:

• PULSE: Feature photography — Zahn Schultz, Madeline Wilson, Jenae Harris and Krista Kok; Photo Illustration — Matthew Conrardy, Molly Nutt, Bailee Wicks and Lexi Phillips

• The Observer: Breaking News Reporting — Jack Belcher, Alexa Murdock and Mariah Valles; General News Reporting — Mariah Valles, Jack Belcher, Alex Murdock and Hanson Lee; General Column Writing — Kyle Wilkinson; Art/Graphics — Shawna Hettick; General News Photography — Mariah Valles; Best Affiliated Website — The Observer staff

Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,