USC Annenberg students and recent alumni were recognized at the 2017 National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards for their work on Ampersand, a digital magazine that is run by, edited and content-populated by students from the school’s arts journalism master’s program.
The 10th annual ceremony was hosted by the L.A. Press Club at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Dec. 3.
USC Annenberg students and alumni were honored in a variety of categories from soft news and profiles to commentary and the journalistic use of social media. The top three in the student journalism categories included:
Thomas Carroll (M.A. Specialized Journalism – The Arts, ’18) first place for Best Arts or Entertainment Feature, “Of Walking on Concrete.” Judges’ comments were: “Takes you on a walk through the LA River that defines the city and its culture.”
Didi Beck (M.A. Specialized Journalism – The Arts, ’17) first place for Best Profile, “Alexandra Grant Wants to Live Like a Ghost.” Judges’ comments were: “An intriguing, well-told story of dedication, art and ghosts.”
Justin Sedgwick (M.A. Specialized Journalism – The Arts, ’18) first place for Best Commentary/Critique, “Life After Tom Petty’s Death.” Judges’ comment: “A very personal appreciation of the late artist’s work.”
Running up against professional (non-student) competition, Leah Rosenzweig, (M.A. Specialized Journalism – The Arts, ’18), took 3rd place in Books/Art/Design category for her essay about Frank Lloyd Wright, “The Confused Sense of Place.”
Ampersand alumna Paola Mardo ’17, was awarded the L.A. Press Club’s NAEJ in the Soft News Feature category for her radio/broadcast, “Why Tiki? A Deep Dive into America's Fascination With Tiki Bars, Tropical Drinks and the South Pacific.”
Among USC Annenberg Arts Journalism alumni who took home top prizes, Sarah Bennett (M.A. ’12 ), took first place for her feature in the L.A. Weekly, “A New Kind of Latin Alternative Music is Breaking Down Old Barriers in LA and Beyond.” Bennett also earned first place in the Food/Culture category. The judge’s comments were: “The main course of extensive food knowledge with a side of cultural information and a political-sarcasm dessert keep the reader laughing and informed.”
Tim Greiving, KUSC, (M.A. ’12), won second place for best Journalistic Use of Social Media by an Individual to Tell or Enhance a Story, “Danny Elfman’s Strange, Circuitous Path to the Concert Hall.”
“It’s great to see that the energy and effort these students put into Ampersand — and into making their own arts journalism site while they are here at Annenberg — pays off,” said Sasha Anawalt, director of the Master’s in Arts Journalism program. “I am always telling them to be as creative as the artists they are covering. If it bores you, it will bore others. Ampersand and its progenitors are the product of their far-reaching curiosity and vision. Not perfect, but with these awards, recognized.
“It is the striving and risk-taking that interests us, and I can’t lie — it feels good to not be alone in supporting that.”