Case, Kerr and alumna Schneider win big at SPJ Awards competition

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Case, Kerr and alumna Schneider win big at SPJ Awards competition

February 6, 2009

Valarie Case, university relations specialist at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and Kevin Kerr, Conway Springs, Kan., senior, each brought home three awards from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Awards competition in Tulsa.

Northwestern alumna Korina (Atchley) Schneider won 10 awards out of the 12 that she entered. Currently, she owns the North Central Reporter in Medford.

 Valarie Case, university relations specialist at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and Kevin Kerr, Conway Springs, Kan., senior, each brought home three awards from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Awards competition in Tulsa.
(From left) Kevin Kerr, Valarie Case and Korina (Atchley) Schneider are pictured with their awards from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Awards competition. The SPJ awards ceremony was held this year in Tulsa.

Entries are judged on overall excellence, service to the community, and contribution to the public’s understanding of issues and events. Judging criteria also may include readability, accuracy and completeness, as well as depth of research, quality of presentation and difficulty in obtaining information. Winners may be named for first, second, third place or honorable mention. All entries for this contest were items published or broadcast between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2008.

Contest winners were notified in early January 2009 that something they had entered had won an award, but specifics would not be known until the awards banquet.

“I was excited to receive an email telling me something I had entered had won an award, and automatically wondered what entry it was and what placing it earned,” Case said.

There are three newspaper divisions for the contest, as well as categories for radio, television, public relations, magazines and web. The Northwestern News competes in Division C of the newspaper category for circulations less than 7,000. It competes against other newspapers from universities and communities with similar circulations. The photojournalism area of the contest is part of the newspaper category and also falls under the circulation guidelines.

"When I walked in and saw my graphic design entry on the board, it completely caught me off guard,” Kerr said. “To see my work displayed with people from all of these other news organizations, channels and newspapers was just awesome!"

Case’s awards, all in photojournalism, are as follows:

First place in sports photography for a photo of football player Rod Gray sailing over a bunch of Northwestern and Southern Nazarene bodies at the goal line only to have the ball knocked away from him and a touchdown denied.

First place in feature photography of Northwestern alumni band member Nick Bradt playing his tuba.

Second place in Best Photographic Portfolio. Five photos were required for this entry. Two of the photos were the ones from above, along with photos of a volleyball game during Howdy Week as the sun was setting, a row of trumpets during concert season, and The Ranger statue being moved into place.

“I always try to do the best work possible, so receiving awards for things I enjoy doing is great,” Case said. “I’ve been lucky enough to earn at least one award every year since the 2002-2003 competition.”

“I’m also really happy for Kevin for the awards he won.”

Kerr won first place for overall best page one layout and design; second place for feature page design, “Christmas Feature;” and first place for best use of graphic illustration, “Northwestern Symposium.”

"I was really surprised actually,” Kerr said. “I hadn't even thought about winning a category, let alone two. I would have been happy with just the second place, but the two first places on top of it were an added bonus!"

Schneider’s first place awards were for in-depth enterprise reporting/individual, “Smelter Cleanup;” political/governmental reporting (with Amanda Ball), “Open Meeting, Open Records Violation;” criminal justice reporting; feature headlines; story photo/essay, “A Hero Lies in Blackwell;” and news headlines. Her second place awards include: editorial commentary, “Pot Calls Kettle Black;” general news reporting, “Freedom Short-lived for Escaped Inmate;” best reporting portfolio; and news headlines.
-NW-