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Southeastern students win top SPJ awards

Southeastern Louisiana University students at the Southeastern Channel won eight Mark of Excellence Awards, including three first-place honors, at the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Region 12 conference recently.

Tonya Lowentritt

March 31, 2023

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 HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University students at the Southeastern Channel won eight Mark of Excellence Awards, including three first-place honors, at the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Region 12 conference recently.
     The Mark of Excellence Awards honor the best of collegiate journalism from a calendar year. The Society of Professional Journalists Region 12 includes all universities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.
     Southeastern Channel students received the most combined television and broadcast videography honors out of all universities in the competition. Other universities competing included the University of Arkansas, Louisiana State University, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Tennessee.
     Mark of Excellence Awards were judged by SPJ industry professionals who were directed to choose entries they felt were the best in student journalism. If no entry rose to the level of excellence, no award was given.
     “The Society of Professional Journalists has long been one of the most respected journalism organizations, so it’s outstanding recognition for our students to have once again been honored above those at much larger universities,” said Rick Settoon, general manager of the Southeastern Channel. “We are so proud of them for applying their talents and hard work to maintain the Southeastern Channel’s high-quality standards for excellence in student journalism and production.”
     First-place winners included Taylor Nettle of Lacombe, who won first place in “Broadcast News Videography” for her videography in the “Medline Groundbreaking” story for the Southeastern Channel’s student newscast “Northshore News.” The package covered groundbreaking ceremonies near the Hammond airport for a new $45 million, 650,000 square foot distribution center for the medical supply giant.
     “It feels great to receive an honor like this,” Nettle said. “I enjoyed covering the Medline groundbreaking and made different creative decisions about how I covered the story, so it’s exciting to see that some of the creative decisions I made were recognized.”
     As both an anchor and reporter for Northshore News, Nettle not only writes, conducts interviews, narrates, and does on-camera reporting for her stories, she shoots and edits them as well.
     Also winning a first-place Mark of Excellence award was Alexis Genovese of Husser in the “Broadcast Feature Videography” category for videography in her Northshore News story, “Southeastern Vertebrate Museum.”
     “Winning this award from such a prestigious organization is a great honor,” Genovese said. “It helps me feel confident in my work and assures me I have the skills and the talent to make it in this industry. This is what I’m passionate about, and I could not be more thankful for this recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists.”
     Genovese is also both an anchor and reporter for Northshore News. Her winning story spotlights the biology department’s research facility for the study of ecology, evolution, and natural history of vertebrate animals.
     In addition to Nettle and Genovese, Jermaine Kelly of Shreveport also placed first, winning in “Broadcast Sports Videography” for camera work in his “Southeastern vs. Northwestern State Football” story for the student sportscast “The Big Game.”
     “It feels great to have my work recognized,” Kelly said. “This award is important to me because it means that I’m doing something right and gives me the motivation to continue what I’m doing.”
     Although Kelly has also shot news, he said that shooting live game action like that in his winning football story requires a different strategy. The approach he took was to stay ahead of every play and follow the trend of the game.
     Winning second-place or finalist recognition was Jordan Kliebert of Mandeville in “Broadcast News Videography” for videography in his “Causeway Improvements” story for Northshore News. The story covered new guard rail safety enhancements for drivers on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.
     Other Mark of Excellence finalists included Lauren Hawkins of Ponchatoula in “Television Feature Reporting” and Brian Williams of Baton Rouge in “Broadcast Feature Videography” for their work in the Northshore News story “Litter Gitter” about a device developed by local Don Bates to clean up Tangipahoa Parish waterways. Hawkins is currently a news reporter-anchor for WBRZ-TV Ch. 2 (ABC) in Baton Rouge.
     Carson Fryou of Ponchatoula also won second place in “Television Sports Reporting” for his Big Game feature story on Lady Lion basketball player Morgan Carriere.
     The June 28, 2021 episode of Northshore News won second-place finalist recognition in the “Best All Around Television Newscast” category. Hawkins produced and co-anchored the show with Trinity Brown of Baton Rouge. Reporters contributing stories to the newscast were Hawkins, Nettle, Kliebert, Anaclaire McKneely of Amite, Kaylor Yates of Baton Rouge and Joliette Vincent of Luling.
     In its 20 years of existence, the Southeastern Channel has won over 500 national, international and regional awards, including 23 awards from the Emmys.
     The Southeastern Channel can be seen on Spectrum Cable 199 in Tangipahoa, Livingston, St. Tammany and St. Helena parishes and on for viewers in Washington Parish. In addition, the live 24-7 broadcast can be seen on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, the Spectrum App, and the channel’s website at, which also offers programs via video on demand. The Southeastern Channel is available on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


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