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The Rockbridge Report Wins First Place in Regional Journalism Competition

Washington and Lee University hosted this year’s Region II Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Spring conference and won three of the Mark of Excellence awards handed out on March 29. Region II includes Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

This year, collegiate journalists submitted more than 3,400 entries in 39 categories across SPJ’s 12 regions. The Ring-tum Phi won second place in the category of Editorial Writing, and inGeneral won third place in Best Student Magazine. The Rockbridge Report, the student-run weekly news Web site, won first place for Best All Around Independent Online Student Production.

“I am enormously proud of our students and faculty for their hard work and professionalism,” said Brian Richardson, professor of journalism and department head.“In our region, we compete against journalism programs that in some cases comprise more students than the entire student body at W&L. The recognition by SPJ is gratifying, and a singular accomplishment. For the second time in three years, The Rockbridge Report is a national finalist in its category.”

“The Rockbridge Report, http://rockbridgereport.wlu.edu/, which also has a weekly TV broadcast version, is the product of several of our journalism classes,” said Doug Cumming, professor of journalism. “Our students in various classes cover the beats, edit the copy, assign breaking news coverage and produce the website. Professors, of course, give it all a final copy edit and oversee the production–we take final responsibility, but they should get all the credit.”

The Rockbridge Report Web site also won a regional first-place Mark of Excellence award in 2006, which put it in the running for the national awards. Having won first place again this year, the Rockbridge Report will compete with first place winners from the other 11 regions for the 2007 national award, to be announced at the SPJ’s convention in Atlanta in September.

“Being involved with the Rockbridge Report is a great opportunity to get real-world experience while in a classroom setting,” said Megann Daw ’08, former producer of the Rockbridge Report. “We worked as a team to cover every aspect of local news, and it’s great to see our diligence pay off.”

The spring conference at W&L was called “Report Back: Meeting Where Journalism Education Started.” Besides the awards luncheon in Evans Hall, it featured seven panels, two multimedia demonstrations, a mock news conference, a silent auction for SPJ’s Legal Defense Fund and a keynote address by Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!”