Awards & Honors
Communication students win 'Best of the South' regional journalism awards

More than a dozen Mississippi State students won top journalism awards at the 2023 Southeast Journalism Conference for their work in broadcast, print and online journalism.

Held at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, the February conference included 25 regional schools. MSU students won 23 total awards in the annual "Best of the South" and "On-Site" journalism competitions.

1st place    Best Artist/Illustrator - Dontae Ball, *senior, Louisville, MS
1st place    Best Radio Hard News Reporter - Chris LoNigro, *senior, Katy, TX
2nd place   Best Radio Journalist - Jackson Smith, *senior, Castle Rock, CO
2nd place   Best Advertising Staff Member - Sydni Vandevender, senior, Madison, MS
2nd place   Best Public Service Journalism - Hannah Rae Kennedy, senior, Como, MS
2nd place   Best Audio Program - Jackson Smith, *senior, Castle Rock, CO
3rd place    Best College Radio Station - Jackson Speyerer, *senior, Madison, MS
3rd place    Best Radio News Feature Reporter - Jackson Smith, *senior, Castle Rock, CO
3rd place    Best Newspaper Page Layout Designer     Payton Brown, senior, Fulton, MS
3rd place    Best News Graphic Designer - Lydia Palmer, senior, Louisville, MS
4th place    Best Feature Writer     Hannah Blankenship, *senior Huntsville, AL
5th place    Best News Writer - Heather Harrison, senior, Hazlehurst, MS
5th place    Best Special Event Reporter/Editor - Heather Harrison, senior, Hazlehurst, MS  
5th place    Best TV Journalist     Molli Kate Keehley, *senior, Maben, MS
5th place    College Journalist of the Year - Heather Harrison, senior, Hazlehurst, MS
6th place    Best College Video News Program

*Denotes work completed during his/her senior year 2022.

SEJC also hosts an “On-Site” competition where students competed in various categories. Students won seven additional awards and tied for first place in the points total for the On-Site competition. The MSU winners include:

1st place    Sports writing                   Dylan Flippo, sophomore, Coldwater, MS
1st place    Public Relations               Sydni Vandevender, senior, Madison, MS; Heather Harrison, senior,                                                             Hazlehurst, MS
2nd place    Radio News Reporting   Cody Blaszczak, senior, Pelham, AL
2nd place    News writing                   Heather Harrison, senior, Hazlehurst, MS
2nd place    Media History Quiz         Tanner Marlar, senior, Corinth, MS
3rd place    Photography/Sports         Landon Scheel, senior, Meridian, MS
3rd place    Law Quiz                          Katie Rainwater, senior, Bessemer, AL

“I knew we were bringing a talented group of student journalists to Thibodaux. That was confirmed when Mississippi State won first place overall in the on-site competitions. They competed with professionalism and maturity. I am proud of them, and happy for their success,” said Josh Foreman, Reflector advisor and Instructor in the Department of Communication. 

“These phenomenal students have had a stellar year,” according to Dr. Terry Likes, Head of the Department of Communication. “It is nice to see their hard work paying off with this kind of recognition. I’d like to commend the faculty for having our students prepared to succeed at a high level. We are also grateful to our campus media partners for their hard work for preparing our students for excellence.”  

The SEJC is comprised of nearly 50 member colleges and universities in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, and was created to encourage greater interest in student journalism and form ties among regional journalism schools.