by: Tonya Lowentritt
HAMMOND - Southeastern Louisiana University students at the Southeastern Channel won five first place 2014 Mark of Excellence Awards at the annual Society of Professional Journalists Region 12 conference in Lake Charles recently.
Southeastern Channel students were named first place winners in five television categories and second place finalists in two categories. The Mark of Excellence Awards honor the best of collegiate journalism from a calendar year. SPJ's Region 12 comprises all universities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.
The first-place awards included "Best Overall Television Newscast" for the student newscast, "Northshore News." It was the fifth time in the last eight years that "Northshore News" has been honored as the region's top newscast.
"Northshore News" reporter Paul Rivera of Slidell won first place in "Television General News Reporting" for his story, "Fracking on the North Shore." Rivera also won a second-place award in "Television News and Feature Photography" for videography work in his story, "Manufacturing on the North Shore."
Nicholas Authement of Covington, a reporter/videographer for the student sports show, "The Big Game," won a pair of awards for "Television Sports Photography." He won first place for videography in his feature on Southeastern Lady Lions softball slugger Amber Sather and second place for his story on Lions football spring training.
Nicholas Brilleaux of Hammond and Scott Caro of Mandeville, who both recently received their master's degree in history, won first place in "Television In-Depth Reporting" for their documentary "McCrea 1971: Louisiana's Forgotten Rock Festival" about the state's disastrous attempt at a Woodstock-sized festival near McCrea, La. in upper Pointe Coupee Parish.
Caro and Brilleaux saw their documentary honored recently by College Broadcasters, Inc. as the top student documentary in the nation. The program also won national Telly Award and WorldFest Houston Film Festival recognition. "McCrea 1971," which has aired on the Southeastern Channel and screened at film festivals across the state, was produced by Brilleaux and Caro as graduate history students.
Student sports reporter Kati Morse of Ponchatoula won first place in "Television Sports Reporting" for her feature on Southeastern football player Tyler Stoddard, who met his father, a former McNeese State football player, for the first time during the 2014 Lions' football season.
Morse, a former Lady Lions' softball pitcher produced the winning story for airing last fall at halftime of the Southeastern-McNeese football broadcast on the Southland Conference TV Sports Network and ESPN3.
A graduate assistant in Southeastern's Sports Information Office, Morse has also worked as a feature reporter for ESPNU's Campus Connection and sideline reporter for Southland Sports TV, Cox Sports Television and the Southeastern Channel.
The first place winners will now move on to national Mark of Excellence competition with the winners recognized at the Excellence in Journalism 2015 convention Sept. 18-20 in Orlando, Fla.
Judged by professionals in other parts of the country, the Mark of Excellence Awards honor the best in student journalism. Judges were directed to choose only those entries they felt were outstanding work worthy of such an honor. If the judges determined that none of the entries rose to the level of excellence, no award was given.
"We're ecstatic that our students basically swept the television competition against all of the largest universities in the region," said Southeastern Channel general manager Rick Settoon. "The Mark of Excellence Award is one of the most prestigious in student journalism, and we're thrilled that our students continue to win the top honors."
The Southeastern Channel, broadcast on Charter 199 in Tangipahoa, St. Tammany and Livingston parishes and at www.southeastern.edu/tv, has won over 200 national, international and regional awards in only 12 years of existence.