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Several communication students on The Reflector staff awarded at Mississippi Press Association conference

February 10, 2020 (Monday)
Reflector journalists -- past and present -- showed they are leading the state in journalism excellence at the 22nd O.C. McDavid Journalism Summit in Jackson on Feb. 7.

The Reflector staff took several top awards at the conference, including for general news reporting, sports photography, and commentary. In all, the Reflector won seven first place awards and 16 second and third place awards, the most in the senior college division.

Hannah Blankenship, a junior communication major from Huntsville, Alabama, and the Reflector's news editor, won one of the most prestigious awards at the conference: 1st Place in the General News Story category. Blankenship won for her coverage of a police chase that occurred on campus last fall.

Blankenship also won one of the top design awards at the conference: 1st Place in the Best Front Page category.

"It's very validating," Blankenship said. "It's nice to be recognized for your hard work."

Mary Georgia Hamilton, the Reflector's photo editor and a junior from Atlanta, Georgia, took home four total awards for photography, including 1st place and 2nd place in the Sports Photo category.

Dylan Bufkin, a junior from Nashville, Tennessee, and the Reflector's opinion editor, won 1st place in the General Interest Column category. The Reflector swept the category, earning 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

Rosalind Hutton, a senior from Tchula, and the Reflector's graphics editor, won 1st place in the Best Cartoon category.

The Reflector's online editor, Brandon Grisham, collected two 1st place awards in the Website and Use of Social Media categories. The Reflector's website was the "clear winner," judges wrote, with a "beautiful and fluid" design. The Reflector has been named a finalist in the Best Website category in the 2020 National Electronic Media Association competition in Hollywood, California, and staff members will learn in March whether the Reflector is honored by the association for having the best college media website in the country.

A panel discussion with Jamie Patterson of the Yazoo Herald and Anna Wolfe of Mississippi Today was a highlight of the conference. Wolfe, a former Reflector news editor, told the audience how she went about collecting data for an investigative story on unethical medical billing practices. Wolfe won the Bill Minor Prize for Investigative Journalism in 2018 and 2019.

"I just feel extremely proud of everything we've accomplished," said Mia Rodriguez, the Reflector's editor-in-chief. "It gives me a sense of pride just knowing what I've done for the paper is paying off."

Communication students awarded at this MPA conference include junior Hannah Blankenship, junior Hunter Cloud and sophomore Jordan Smith.