Tag Archives: Journalism

Merrill Students Win the Highest Number of SPJ 2011 Region 2 Mark of Excellence First Place Awards

Merrill Senior Tom George's Report on "Crab Companies Hurt by New Wage Rules" Wins SPJ 2011 Region 2 Mark of Excellence First Place Award for Television General News Reporting

The Society of Professional Journalists awarded 22 Region 2 Mark of Excellence awards to Merrill College students, honoring the best in student journalism.

In 35 different categories ranging from online feature reporting to breaking news and television general news reporting, Merrill students took 11 first places, the highest number of first place awards received by any of the 12 other colleges and universities who submitted entries in the regional contest.

The awards were handed out at Elon University.

The first place winners are being considered for the national Mark of Excellence awards. Judges will select two finalists and one winner by early to mid May.

Full list of the University of Maryland winners:

Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper

• Second Place: The Diamondback, University of Maryland

Breaking News Reporting

• Second Place: Students flood Route 1, mall after Bin Laden death – by Marissa Lang, University of Maryland

Editorial Writing

• Third Place: The Diamondback staff, University of Maryland

Feature Writing

• Second Place: Tramp ships and turntables – by Richard Abdill, University of Maryland

General Column Writing

• First Place: Christopher Haxel, University of Maryland

• Third Place: Osama Eshera, University of Maryland

General News Reporting

• First Place: Ten years gone – by Yasmeen Abutaleb and Rachel Roubein, University of Maryland

In-Depth Reporting

• First Place: Salmonella investigation – by Jeffrey Benzing, Esther French and Judah Ari Gross, University of Maryland

• Second Place: Young football players at greater concussion risk than pros – by Chris Eckard and Jonas Shaffer, University of Maryland

• Third Place: Twice burned – by Steve Kilar, University of Maryland

Sports Column Writing

• First Place: Columns by Jeremy Schneider, University of Maryland

Sports Writing

• First Place: Team Tyler – by Conor Walsh, University of Maryland

• Second Place: With Turgeon, a new look – by Chris Eckard, University of Maryland

Online Feature Reporting

• First Place: Salmonella lurks from farm to fork – by Jeffrey Benzing, Esther French, Judah Ari Gross and Robyne McCullough, University of Maryland

Online In-Depth Reporting

• First Place: How safe is your food – by News21 team, University of Maryland

Online News Reporting

• First Place: Salmonella lurks from farm to fork – by Jeffrey Benzing, Esther French, Judah Ari Gross and Robyne McCullough, University of Maryland

• Second Place: Some say health officials need to do more to warn public of high mercury levels in Lake Lariat fish – by Madhu Rajaraman, University of Maryland

Television In-depth Reporting

• First Place: Sexual assault – by Danielle Lama, University of Maryland

Television General News Reporting

• First Place: Crab companies hurt by new wage rules – by Tom George, University of Maryland

• Third Place: Rockville tackles deer population problem – by Tom George, University of Maryland

Television News Photography

• First Place: Missing Vietnam soldiers laid to rest – by Tom George, University of Maryland

• Second Place: Farm estate tax – by Jessica MacLeod, University of Maryland

For the full list of SPJ’s 2011 Region 2 Mark of Excellence Winners, please click here.

Merrill Professor Emerita Reflects on Her Journey at NPR

Dr. Lee Thornton

Supervising editor for NPR’s Impact of War project and Philip Merrill alumna Danyell Irby interviewed two African-American broadcast pioneers at an NPR event earlier this month in celebration of Black History Month.

Dr. Lee Thornton, Merrill professor emerita and the first African-American woman to host weekend edition of “All Things Considered” discussed the changing face of journalism and diversity in American newsrooms. She was joined by Donna Limerick, the former executive producer of “Horizons,” NPR’s longest-running documentary program.

“These two women played key roles in the evolution of our beloved NPR and journalism at large,” said NPR Associate Producer Victor Holliday, who organized the event.

In an interview about the event, Dr. Thornton reflected on her time at NPR and opportunities for minority media professionals.

Merrill College: You were at NPR in the early ’80s.

Dr. Thornton: NPR was still quite new when I was there. I was hired by Barbara Cochran (then Barbara Cohen). I’d left CBS News and went to be an anchor in Detroit and that was not a fit for me. I so welcomed the idea of doing quality journalism for National Public Radio. And I became the first African-American woman to host one of their programs on a regular basis. Also I got to do amazing long-form reports, some with living legends like Ella Fitzgerald. I produced and reported a half-hour documentary on my hometown, Leesburg, Va., and I never saw so much mail in my life. Like five sacks of it! I can only imagine if we’d had e-mail back then.

Merrill College: What was the organization like then?

Dr. Thornton: It was wondrously inventive. Yes, that’s what I’d say. Practically any idea you came up with, they’d say “Go for it,” or whatever they said back then. I think if anything we took more risks back then, actually. But always, always the editors insisted on accuracy and good writing. The voices were something else again. NPR never insisted on golden-throated warblers. The reporters and anchors almost all sounded, well, unique.

Merrill College: What do you most recall about the kind of journalism NPR was doing then?

Dr. Thornton: I recall that it was then, as it is now, journalism for a select audience. First, it’s for people who care to pay attention to the radio. If there’s a grand old dame among electronic news media, it’s obviously radio. And when I say a “select” audience, I don’t mean elite, or whatever. I mean people who are curious, who want to know more. Jay Kernis was a producer at NPR when I was there and many, many years later – after he’d gone to “60 Minutes” and stayed awhile and left, he went back to NPR. I asked him and Scott Simon to come out to campus and appear on my show, “Changing Media,” which I taped at UMTV. As Jay put it, talking about the NPR audience, most people walking along a beach see a seashell and say, “Oh, there’s a seashell.” NPR listeners, he said, see a shell and wonder, “What is the meaning of that shell? What is its natural history, its composition? Why the concentric circles here, the color there?” Well, I laughed, but I think he nailed it in a way. NPR knows that listener and what he or she wants and tried then, as it does today, to provide all those sometimes-offbeat answers. I loved that, the offbeat-ness of it.

Merrill College: What was it like for women and minorities when you were there?

Dr. Thornton: First, there were precious few minorities. Period. There were a few correspondents, the late Faith Fancher, Bill Drummond, who is now a professor at Berkeley. A few others. Only one or two producers of color. Women fared better in that there were higher numbers. Nina Totenberg was there then, Cokie Roberts, Linda Wertheimer. They were real leaders on air and off. But, truth be told, NPR left a lot to be desired in terms of numbers and roles of both women and minorities. That has changed for the better.

Merrill College: Would you say NPR had an impact on your subsequent career?

Dr. Thornton: My broadcast journalism credentials are these: local TV and radio news, CBS network news, NPR, and CNN. I learned journalism at all of those. Importantly, all of that experience made me a better teacher at Maryland and at Howard University, where I also taught. All of it had a huge impact on what I did subsequently and I count myself very fortunate to have had those career experiences, all of them.

Merrill College: What did it mean to you that NPR paid you that tribute this Black History Month?

Dr. Thornton: I was honored to be remembered. NPR is a juggernaut today compared to what it was back then. I mean, I can remember some Sundays when we had to fill the show and didn’t quite have enough material and the producer would say, “Lee, can’t you call up somebody?” And I’d snap my fingers and say, “I’ll call up Clarence Thomas.” And I would do that – he wasn’t yet a Supreme Court justice. And Clarence and I would talk on the phone about this or that and we’d edit it and put it on the air. Kind of freewheeling! But, oh my gosh, it was fun. I imagine it’s a lot different today and more complex by far. So that they should remember me from back then, I mean it’s 30 years, meant a great deal to me.

Merrill Professor Named Maryland “Woman of the Year”

Prof. Lee Thornton was named the University of Maryland’s “Outstanding Woman of the Year” on Tuesday by the President’s Commission on Women’s Issues (PCWI).  Founded in the 1970s, the primary mission of the Commission is to advocate for the interest of the entire community of women at the University of Maryland College Park.

Each year in spring ceremonies, the Commission recognizes an Outstanding Woman of the Year along with an Outstanding Woman of Color, Outstanding Professional Staff and an Outstanding Graduate Student.

Currently serving as Interim Associate Provost for Equity and Diversity for the university, Prof. Thornton is responsible for early implementation of the university’s diversity strategic plan.  She was cited for her work as interim dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in 2008-09.

She was the College’s first woman dean.  She was also cited for her teaching awards and for being a broadcast news trailblazer, with several “firsts” to her credit.  She was the first African American woman to cover a regular White House beat for one of the then three broadcast news networks, CBS News.

Woman of the Year Award Recipients with UMCP President Wallace Loh (center). From Left to Right, Prof. Lee Thornton (Outstanding Woman of the Year), Sharon E. Kirkland-Gordon (Outstanding Woman of Color), Barbara J. Goldberg and Beverly R. Greenfeig (Outstanding Professional Staff), Corbin Campbell (Outstanding Graduate Student) In prepared remarks, Thornton thanked her students, “every one of them…for allowing me to learn with them.  I see and hear them on the air everywhere, all of the time.  And I know their success was less about me than it was about them.  I just got lucky.” She also thanked the Richard Eaton Foundation for its generous support of her work over the years.  She was the first holder of the Eaton Chair in Broadcast Journalism at Merrill, serving as Eaton professor from 1997 to 2010.

Woman of the Year Award Recipients with University of Maryland President Wallace Loh (center). From Left to Right, Prof. Lee Thornton (Outstanding Woman of the Year), Sharon E. Kirkland-Gordon (Outstanding Woman of Color), Barbara J. Goldberg and Beverly R. Greenfeig (Outstanding Professional Staff), Corbin Campbell (Outstanding Graduate Student)

In prepared remarks, Thornton thanked her students, “every one of them…for allowing me to learn with them.  I see and hear them on the air everywhere, all of the time.  And I know their success was less about me than it was about them.  I just got lucky.”

She also thanked the Richard Eaton Foundation for its generous support of her work over the years.  She was the first holder of the Eaton Chair in Broadcast Journalism at Merrill, serving as Eaton professor from 1997 to 2010.  It is the first endowed chair of its kind in the nation.

Added Merrill College Dean Kevin Klose: “We thank the President’s Commission on Women’s Issues for making it official: Lee Thornton is the greatest!”