UM Students Win Prestigious Awards at Journalism Conference

Sudu Upadhyay named College Journalist of the Year, Ole Miss team takes grand championship

Ole Miss junior Sudu Upadhyay won College Journalist of the Year at the SEJC Conference.

UM junior Sudu Upadhyay won College Journalist of the Year at the annual SEJC event.

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students won top awards at the annual Southeast Journalism Conference, including College Journalist of the Year and Grand Championship Team for on-site competitions, as well as seven other first-place honors.

Sudu Upadhyay, a junior from Oxford in the UM Meek School of Journalism and New Media, received the top honor of Best of the South College Journalist of the Year. Upadhyay, who served as NewsWatch manager for the 2014-2015 academic year, continues to work for NewsWatch and Rebel Radio.

His entry into the contest included several examples of campus and international reporting as well as his extensive resume and essay about his commitment and responsibility in journalism.

He is only the second Ole Miss student to receive this award, which includes a $1,000 prize.

“It’s definitely a good feeling,” Upadhyay said. “It’s validation for all the missed meals and times I got angry texts from friends for not going out with them. It was a lot of hard work and there were a lot of nights where I didn’t sleep, but it’s all worth it when you get recognized amongst some of the best journalism students in the Southeast.”

Nancy Dupont, professor of journalism, worked with Upadhyay on an international assignment when he was a freshman. His work during his undergraduate career inspired her to submit a letter of recommendation for this award.

“Sudu impressed me from the first time I met him, so I was happy to ask him to shoot a documentary with me in Togo, West Africa,” Dupont said. “But he was only a freshman, and in the back of my mind I wondered if he’d be able to do the demanding work required by a documentary.

“It was amazing to see how he threw himself into the project using his excellent videography and editing skills. I also found him to be an excellent interviewer. He has an extremely bright future.”

The Student Media Center earned the award for Grand Championship Team for its performance in 16 on-site competitions at the conference, hosted by Austin Peay University. That award is based on the number of wins by Ole Miss contingent.

“These awards are important,” said Will Norton, UM journalism dean. “They build a reputation for the Meek School and the Student Media Center. More importantly, the awards are a reflection of a lot of hard work by students and solid faculty instruction on reporting and writing. In brief, the awards mean the Student Media Center and the Meek School are moving in the right direction.”

Ole Miss had nine first-place awards, nine second-place awards and two third-place awards.

Editor in Chief of The Daily Mississippian Logan Kirkland, senior from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, won two first-place awards, one for special event reporter/editor in Best of the South and another for sports photography in the on-site competition.

Senior students who received first-place honors include Caroline Callaway, from El Dorado, Arkansas, for on-site newspaper design; Tori Olker, from Chicago, and Victoria Lanza from Richardson, Texas, for on-site public relations; Dylan Rubino from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for sports writing in the DM; and Kelly Savage from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, for television news reporting for NewsWatch. Sophomore Jake Thrasher, of Birmingham, Alabama, won first place for his DM cartoons.

Second-place honors went to senior Drew Jansen, of St. Peters, Missouri, for on-site news writing; senior Tori Wilson, of Jackson, for on-site copy editing; senior Holly Baer, from Brandon, for on-site op-ed writing; and the multimedia team of seniors Brittany Clark, of Redondo Beach, California, Dylan Rubino and Kelly Savage for their on-site competition work.

Second-place Best of the South winners were senior Steven Gagliano, from Cumming, Georgia, for radio journalism on Rebel Radio; senior Anna McCollum, of Corinth, for journalism research; sophomore Riley Mueller, from College Station, Texas, for radio feature reporting on Rebel Radio; junior Kelsey Shumate, of Flowood, for advertising on Rebel Radio; and junior Clara Turnage, from New Hebron, for feature writing for the DM.

Other winners representing Ole Miss are:

Browning Stubbs, a senior from Memphis, Tennessee – Third place, television journalism

Cady Herring, junior, Olive Branch – Third place, magazine writing

Caroline Callaway – Fourth place, newspaper design

Morgan Burger, senior, San Antonio, Texas – Fourth place, radio feature reporting

Zoe McDonald, junior, Brandon – Fifth place, arts and entertainment writing

Madisen Theobald, senior, Normal, Illinois – Seventh place, design

Logan Kirkland – Eighth place, press photography

Brittany Clark – Ninth place, television feature reporting

The Daily Mississippian placed fourth in the Best Public Service Journalism category for its coverage of the state flag removal from campus. The placed 10th among news websites.

“I marvel every semester as I watch dozens of students work hard for hours each day and night, while at the same time juggling their classwork and other activities,” said Patricia Thompson, director of student media.

“They produce professional-quality work on part-time schedules, and they learn so many amazing life skills. They are passionate about our mission to seek the truth and provide information that our campus community may not find anywhere else.”

UM is slated to host next year’s SEJC conference, set for February. Thompson is president of the organization for the coming year, and DM managing editor Clara Turnage is student president.