A slate of USC Annenberg students, competing with their peers as well as professional journalists across Southern California, were recognized by the Los Angeles Press Club at its 59th annual awards ceremony on Sunday, June 25.
CNN’s Jake Tapper and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell were among the high-profile journalists who attended to receive awards and deliver remarks celebrating the importance of the press.
The eight USC Annenberg students who won were recognized across platforms, from online news to radio. Alumni also won honors, along with Professor Marty Kaplan, who continued his sweep of first-place awards for his columns.
Michael Radcliffe won first place in the Personality Profile/Interview category, competing with professionally produced radio stories, for his piece: “Portrait of an Artist on Skid Row.” The story, also published by KPCC’s Off-Ramp program, was a project for Professor Sandy Tolan and Karen Lowe’s public radio documentary class. It was lauded by judges for being “well crafted.”
Judges wrote: “Michael Radcliffe really made us care about Juanita Pina, describing her art and her homeless situation. The story really flowed well. We appreciated the attention to detail, hearing Juanita’s laugh from time to time and even her dismay about her circumstances. The reporter included the recording of the follow-up call where Juanita Pina, contacted Radcliffe about her status. This story gives the listener a chance to learn from a talented homeless woman what life is really like for her living on the streets. Even how Radcliffe ended the piece with the lack of knowing where Juanita Pina is living now was interesting and a good place to wrap up the story. This piece makes the listener care about Pina’s life and the fate of homeless people on Skid Row.
In the same category, Mark McNeill of USC Annenberg’s digital arts and culture magazine Ampersand, won third place for his story, “Resonant Residents: Miguel Atwood-Ferguson & Topanga Canyon.”
Sarah Collins, working for student-run USC Annenberg Media and competing with other student journalists, won first place in the Personality Profile category. Her story, “From South Philly to USC: Lypheng Kim Overcame Poverty and Violence to Attend College,” was one installment in Annenberg Media’s “Faces of USC” series, which focuses on telling the personal stories of USC’s diverse campus.
Judges wrote: “In this moving profile of a Cambodian immigrant, a child of genocide-surviving parents, Sarah Collins shows how student Lypheng Kim triumphed over violence and poverty he experienced growing up in South Philadelphia before attending USC. This profile is one of many admirable diversity portraits in a series about USC students.”
Cole Sullivan also won first place for Best Reporting, among student-produced broadcast, podcast or streams, for his Annenberg Media story “‘I Never Thought It Would Happen:’ USC Students Share Stories of Sexual Assault.” In their review, judges wrote, “Fantastic piece! Cole Sullivan managed to have students speak on-camera about their sexual assault experiences.”
In the student news media category of Best News Writing – Print or Online, Annenberg Media Senior News Editor James Tyner took second place for his story “Forced to Leave: When Financial Aid Falls Short.”
Insitar Seraaj of Annenberg Media won third place in that category for “White Is Not Always Right in the Dental Industry,” a profile of an African-American dental student at USC who hopes to inspire a future generation of black dentists.
Competing against professional outlets, Hannah Deitch’s piece for Ampersand, “How Does This Story End?” won third place among editorials.
Paola Mardo, USC Annenberg’s 2016-17 Sony Pictures Entertainment fellow, also competed with professional radio journalists to win third place in the Lifestyle Feature category: “Why Tiki? A Deep Dive into America’s Fascination with Tiki Bars, Tropical Drinks and the South Pacific.”
In addition, student Sean Myers won a $1,000 scholarship from the LA Press Club for his work on Annenberg Media’s interactivity desk.
It was Kaplan’s sixth-in-a-row first-place award from the Press Club.
Judges wrote: “No matter what side of the aisle you aligned with, 2016 was draining. The campaign coverage was nonstop and seeped into every part of our lives, and Marty Kaplan captured this in his piece. He made his readers think about how they spend their time keeping up with elections, and why we feel the need to take in every news cast, poll, debate and speech. Perhaps the next round we’ll lower our blood pressure and take his advice to not beat ourselves up over tuning out.”
Susan Valot, a USC Annenberg alumna who works with student journalists as a writing coach in the Media Center, won three first-place awards for stories she produced with KCRW. Fellow alumna Daina Beth Solomon took home one of the night’s biggest prizes, Journalist of the Year, for her work with the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Also for the Business Journal, alumna Kristin Marguerite Doidge won two second-place awards for her media and entertainment news feature coverage.