Southeastern students dominate SPJ Awards


Friday, December 4, 2020 Southeastern Times
by: Tonya Lowentritt 

SOUTHEASTERN STUDENTS RECEIVE SPJ AWARDS - The Southeastern Channel recently dominated the television division of the 2019 Mark of Excellence Awards given by the Society of Professional Journalists. The channel won seven first-place awards and nine awards total for television and videography, including a first-place honor for “Southeastern Times” in the “Best All-Around Television News Magazine” category. Pictured are the show’s co-anchors, from left, Kaylee Normand and John Sartori, both of Mandeville.

     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University students at the Southeastern Channel won nine 2019 Mark of Excellence Awards, including seven first-place honors, at the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Region 12 conference.
     Southeastern students received the most television and broadcast videography honors out of all universities competing, including the most first-place awards at seven and second-place finalist awards at two. The closest competing university had one first-place award. Universities competing included Louisiana State University, the University of Arkansas, University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University and University of Tennessee, among others.
     The Mark of Excellence Awards honors the best of collegiate journalism from a calendar year. The Society of Professional Journalists Region 12 comprises all universities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.
     SPJ industry professionals judged the Mark of Excellence Award entries and selected those 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, and for our students to dominate the competition against much larger universities is truly an outstanding achievement and, once again, shows that our students and program are the best in the region,” said Southeastern Channel General Manager Rick Settoon. “These awards reflect the high quality of broadcast journalism in both news and sports production by our students, and I’m very proud of their high standards and strong efforts. I’m extremely happy that their hard work has been rightly recognized.”
     Dylan Domangue of Houma won three first-place Mark of Excellence Awards for his news and sports reporting and videography.
     Domangue won first place for “Television Sports Reporting” for his feature story on Lady Lion basketball player, Jaclyn Scholvin, produced for the channel’s student sportscast, “The Big Game.” Domangue also placed first in “Broadcast Sports Videography” for his camera work for the 2019 Southeastern vs. Northwestern State football game. In addition, he won first place for “Broadcast News Videography” for his story about the Mandeville mayor’s salary debate for the student newscast, “Northshore News.”
     “Receiving these awards from the SPJ makes me proud because of its prestigious reputation,” Domangue said. “These awards make everything worth it. They make me realize my work is recognized on a regional level and that I rank among the top in the region. It gives me confidence that I am constantly improving in my work.”
     It was the second straight year that Domangue, now a reporter-anchor at KALB-TV Ch. 5 (NBC/CBS) in Alexandria, won the top awards in news and sports videography.
     “The training and opportunities I received at the Southeastern Channel are the reasons I won these awards,” Domangue explained. “Before school, I never held a camera, and now I’m an award-winning videographer. This is because I had the chance to film many stories and games over the course of each semester, and, after many shoots, I have gotten more comfortable in my videography. I understand angles, lighting, audio and more, and that makes it all better.”
     Kaylee Normand of Mandeville won first place in “Television Feature Reporting” for her human-interest story on Julianna Puipuro of Mandeville in the newsmagazine “Southeastern Times.”
     “This is such a huge honor,” said Normand. “This is a wonderful organization and a prestigious award to have received as a college reporter. Just knowing that they chose my story out of all the other candidates really means a lot to me.”
     Normand’s feature told the story of Puipuro, a high school student who struggled with anxiety, depression, anorexia and suicidal thoughts, but overcame those issues through her faith to live a vibrant and happy life. Puipuro now has her own ministry that encourages and counsels youth suffering from the same diagnoses.
     “My main approach was to use this opportunity to raise awareness of something that is very common in today’s society and is very difficult to admit at times,” Normand said. “In doing this, I wanted to allow Julianna to have a platform to speak about her experiences.”
     Normand, who graduates this month, has been hired as a news reporter by KATC-TV Ch. 3 (ABC) in Lafayette, named by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters as the state’s top medium market television station.
     “I cannot explain how thankful I am for working at the Southeastern Channel,” she added. “From the very first day I started working there up until my last day as a senior with a new job as a news reporter, I have learned something new and valuable from everyone that I worked with. They push and challenge you to be the best you can and make you really believe in yourself. I credit all of my success moving forward to every single person that I have worked with at the Southeastern Channel.”
     The Southeastern Channel also won first place awards for “Best All-Around Television News Magazine” with the Nov. 11, 2019 episode of “Southeastern Times” that spotlights faculty, students, and Southeastern campus programs, along with people and events in the southeast Louisiana region. Normand and John Sartori of Mandeville hosted the winning program.
     In addition, Brian Williams of Baton Rouge won top honors for “Television General News Reporting” with his “Northshore News” story “Art Theft” about bronze sculptor Bill Binnings of Covington.
     Richie Solares of New Orleans won first place for “Broadcast Feature Videography” for his camera work in a feature story for “Northshore News” about a Civil War re-enactment staged by the Camp Moore organization in Springfield.
     Receiving finalist, or second-place recognition, was John Williams of Denham Springs for “Television Feature Reporting” for his “Northshore News” story about the July 4, 2019 celebration in Baton Rouge.
     Finally, the Nov. 1, 2019 episode of the channel’s student newscast “Northshore News” won second-place finalist honors for “Best All-Around Television Newscast.” “Northshore News” has won first-place honors in the region six times.
     In its 18 years of existence, the Southeastern Channel has won over 400 national, international and regional awards, including 20 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 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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