Communications students win national journalism awards

Emmanuel Morgan '19, Alex Hager '19, Jessica Rapfogel '19 and Anton Delgado '20 were honored by the Society of Professional Journalists for their writing and photography.

​Four Elon University students were named national winners in three categories of the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards competition.

Emmanuel Morgan (top left), Alex Hager (top right), Anton Delgado (bottom left) and Jessica Rapfogel (bottom right) all won national Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards for General News Reporting, Sports Photography and Breaking News Photography.
Senior journalism majors Emmanuel Morgan and Alex Hager won for General News Reporting for a shared byline story about the toppling of the Silent Sam Confederate monument at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in August. The piece doesn’t only touch on the statue’s fall, but also covers the larger conversation regarding Confederate monuments across North Carolina, including in nearby Graham.

“Alex Hager and I made a promise to each other the year before that if UNC had another protest, we would report on it,” Morgan said. “We met up in the newsroom and made a plan of attack. When we went to UNC, we did man-on-the-street interviews with people at the statue’s base, and my friends at the Daily Tar Heel set us up with work space. We wanted to report on it because it was a way for us to get off campus and to try to localize a national story.”

Morgan, who has worked for Elon News Network since his first year, wrapped up his yearlong term as the organization’s executive director in March. He will work as a sports intern at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this summer. Hager, also a four-year ENN staffer, most recently worked as its web producer. After graduation, he will head to Dillingham, Alaska, to work as a reporter with KDLG National Public Radio.

Senior Jessica Rapfogel, a communication design and strategic communications double major, was honored in Sports Photography for a photo from the Harlem Globetrotters visit to Schar Center in November. The shot features a Globetrotters player called Hammer in the middle of an airborne backflip, as he prepares to dunk.

“Something I love about photography is being able to freeze time and capture a moment that could normally pass by without much lasting significance,” Rapfogel said. “For me, I was just doing what I love and experimenting with different types of shots during such a fast-paced, action-packed event. It was an added bonus and a great honor to see that work gain such recognition.”

Rapfogel has taken photos for ENN, the Burlington Times-News and Elon Athletics. She’s also worked as a creative content producer at Live Oak Communications.

Junior journalism and international & global studies double major Anton Delgado won for Breaking News Photography for a photo of Elon arborist Wendy Williams clearing out drainage gates in knee-high water under the oaks in October during Tropical Storm Michael. Gusts of wind and the soggy ground resulted in down trees around campus, including one that uprooted and fell toward Sloan Hall.

“When Hurricane Michael made landfall at Elon, I threw caution to the wind,” Delgado said. “I knew that to provide ENN's audience with the most accurate visuals I would need to be in the thick of the storm. I embedded myself with Physical Plant and followed their work throughout Tropical Storm Michael, which led me to taking the photo.”

Delgado, the incoming managing editor of ENN’s The Pendulum, spent the spring semester studying abroad in Morocco and interning as a reporter at Morocco World News, where he published a total of 45 stories. He will spend his summer in Arizona as a 2019 Carnegie-Knight News21 Fellow, where he will investigate the federal government’s response to natural disasters.

Elon’s three national SPJ wins this year outpace the performance of colleges and universities such as Syracuse, Georgia, Indiana, Northwestern, Missouri, Yale and Harvard.

All national winners and finalists in the SPJ Mark of Excellence competition will be honored at the Excellence in Journalism Conference Sept. 5-7 in San Antonio, Texas.

Prior to this year’s wins, Elon student work has earned 14 other national first-place awards since 2010. Previous winners include Diego Pineda ’19 (General News Reporting), Stephanie Hays ’18 (Photo Illustration), Alex Simon ’17 (Sports Writing), Leena Dahal ’17 (General Column Writing) and Al Drago ’15 (General News Photography twice, Sports Photography, Feature Photography, General News Photography and Photo Illustration) and Michael Bodley ’16 (Breaking News Reporting).