Professional journalists honor NewsNet site

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At this year”s Society of Professional Journalists national conference, NewsNet, the online news service that combines the Daily Universe, KBYU TV, CCN and KBYU FM News, won in the Mark of Excellence Awards” newest category, “Best All-Around Online Student Broadcast Station” for the 2001 school year.

“I think it is a great honor in achieving excellence,” said Sharon Ugolini, NewsNet Web Editor. “We strive to push our limits.”

The Mark of Excellence awards, held this year in early September in Ft. Worth, Texas, is the student counterpart to the professional competition, Sigma Delta Chi.

“One of SPJ”s missions is to inspire successive generations to become journalists,” said Bobby Deckard, SPJ national awards coordinator.

He added that hopefully recognizing good journalism at a college level help students continue on to a profession in journalism.

The SPJ board added the best online student broadcast category in December as part of 16 other online categories. The Society”s awards and honors committee wanted to have more online categories to reflect the growing importance of online news industry, said Deckard.

“The SPJ board is a base organization and tries recognize all forms of news,” added Deckard.

Brigham Young University competed against six other schools in the category.

A panel of professional journalists from various mediums judged all categories. In the “Best All-Around Online Student Broadcast Station,” entries were judged on various criteria, including the Web site”s design, ease of navigation, content, readability, accuracy, completeness, and general overall use of the site.

“The Web site has to do more than reprint the newspaper content, we ask ”do they take it beyond other formats?”” said Deckard.

Travis Morgan, managing editor of the NewsNet, feels that the integrated newsroom at NewsNet contributed to the Web site”s success.

“It”s the one medium where we get content from print, broadcast, and radio,” he said. “The Web site is a place where NewsNet can showcase what we are.”

The NewsNet Web site offers greater timeliness, the ability to reach a larger audience and instantaneous information, said Ugolini.

“The Web site gives students the opportunity to brainstorm and look at different perspective,” she said. “Talking about it print and broadcast students realize sources available and what other aspects to take…some people think that Web is just a computer to post stuff, but it is another way to tell a story.”

Even with national recognition, Ugolini feels that many BYU students don”t know about the live webcasts on the NewsNet Web site.

She explained the Web site broadcasts two student news programs, CCN in the morning and KBYU news in the evening, and special events like General Conference, Smith Family Living Center dedication, the Olympic torch run, Ironman triathlon, and even the library flood Winter Semester 2002.

For the Olympic torch run, broadcast and print reporters posted information of updated time and location of the torch. “We even had video packages on the torch-they were filmed, edited, and put on the Web that night,” she said.

Ugolini feels the on-the-spot webcasts are the strength of the Web site.

Morgan, while pleased with the award, still feels the Web site still needs to offer more.

He looks forward to improving the video quality and adding more broadcast features to the Web site.

“I would like to have a page devoted to video content in addition to video integrated in print stories,” Morgan said. “We also want to divide the webcast into segments so that people can watch only stories they are interested in.”

BYU graduate Miki Meek also won best sports writing at the conference for her article “Fourth down and no graduation to go.”

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