UW earns national and regional recognition as SPJ announces award winners

SPJ MOE awards
Recent graduate Thuc Nhi Nguyen (B.A., 2015) was honored among the top student journalists as a national winner of a Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Mark of Excellence Award last month. Her piece, “Science of the Serve” earned both the national and regional titles for the large-school sports writing category.

After being inspired by an ESPN multimedia and science project, Nguyen, who graduated mid-year in journalism and mathematics, hoped to create a similar project in The Daily newsroom, and utilized her close connections with the University of Washington men’s tennis team to carry out her project. Her goal: break down exactly how a serve happens, and demonstrate both the science and the technique of a serve on a multimedia platform.

For three days a week, over the course of five weeks, Nguyen ran experiments and conducted interviews with the assistance of photographer Joshua Bessex, Daily digital editor Andrew Simonetti and Simon Fox, the executive producer of the “Double Shot.”

She laid out the entire process of developing the project and executing the experiments on her personal blog. It took close to eight weeks from start to finish to complete.

“It was really exciting,” Nguyen said. “When we pressed publish we felt so accomplished.”

Nguyen encourages other low-budget school newsrooms to try multimedia projects like this one, commenting that they didn’t spend any money.

“We’re always talking about multimedia journalism in the industry now, and I felt like that was our first big step in the newsroom truly doing that,” Nguyen said. “I hope that people can realize these multimedia projects aren’t unattainable for students to take on – you see it on ESPN and you think only they can do it. We’re not ESPN, but we can do something close to it. This project shows that we are stepping out of the box, we’re ambitious and we’re creative.”

The entire Daily staff was also a finalist for the regional “Best All Around Student Newspaper” award.

Here’s the complete list of this year’s SPJ Mark of Excellence Award winners from the UW:

National Winners:

Non-Fiction Magazine Article
National Finalist: “The Lost Branch” – by Lily Katz (Senior, Journalism & Law, Societies and Justice)

Sports Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students
National Winner: “Science of the Serve” – by Thuc Nhi Nguyen (B.A. 2015, Math & Journalism)

Television Sports Reporting
National Finalist: UW Boxing – by Alex Bosco (Sophomore)

Region 10 Winners:

Photo Illustration (Large) 10,000+ Students
Finalist: “Science of the Serve” – by Joshua Bessex (B.A. 2014, Journalism)

Non-Fiction Magazine Article
Winner: “The Lost Branch” – by Lily Katz (Senior, Journalism & Law, Societies and Justice)

Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper
Finalist: The Daily of the University of Washington

Sports Writing (Large) 10,000+ Students
Winner: “Science of the Serve” – by Thuc Nhi Nguyen (Graduated Senior, Math & Journalism)

Online Feature Reporting
Finalist: “Saving Kenya’s Mothers” – by Adiba Khan (Senior, Biochemistry & Journalism)

Best All-Around Television Newscast
Finalist: November 1, 2014 – by Simon Fox (Senior, Journalism & International Studies), Trennesia Jackson (B.A. 2014, Journalism)

Television Breaking News Reporting
Winner: UW peaceful protest for Ferguson – by Trenessia Jackson (B.A. 2014, Journalism), Alex Bosco (Sophomore)

Television News and Feature Photography
Finalist: UW eco car – by Simon Fox (Senior, Journalism & International Studies)

Television Sports Reporting
Winner: UW Boxing – by Alex Bosco (Sophomore)

Click here to see all the award winners from Region 10 (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington).

Written by Ashley Walls