Communications alumni receive national awards from SPJ

Three Elon University alumni received their 2009 national winner Mark of Excellence Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists at a luncheon at the organization's national convention Oct. 4 at the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

Morgan Little ’10, a journalism major who’s working as a social media intern at United Press International, won the national Online Opinion & Commentary competition for three staff editorials he wrote for the Pendulum Online titled “The journey’s no reward,” “Forgive me father, for I am drunk” and “Surfing the Web in the kiddie pool.”

Randy Gyllenhaal ’10, a broadcast journalism major who is currently working as a reporter at WPTZ News Channel 5 in Burlington, Vt., and Drake Springer ’10, a business major and communications minor, won the national General News Reporting competition for a piece they produced for Phoenix14News titled “Driving to Distraction.”

Colin Donohue, the coordinator of student media in the School of Communications and adviser to The Pendulum, and Rich Landesberg, an associate professor in the School of Communications and adviser to Phoenix14News, accepted the awards on the students’ behalf.

Judges for the national Mark of Excellence Awards choose one national winner and two national finalists in every competition category. Winners and finalists had to place first in one of the SPJ’s 12 regional competitions earlier this year.

Little, Gyllenhaal and Springer were already honored at the SPJ Region 2 conference in College Park, Md., March 27. More than 3,600 entries from colleges and universities nationwide submitted content for contest last year.

The two awards were the first national winner honors for Elon students in SPJ’s Mark of Excellence competition. Last year, current Pendulum editor and senior journalism major Pam Richter was a national finalist for Online Opinion & Commentary for columns she wrote for the Greensboro News & Record’s website.