June 19, 2017

Aggie journalists, broadcasters recognized in statewide awards

UPR's winners in annual SPJ awardsUtah Public Radio journalists and editors were recognized June 15 by the Utah Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. From left: Daniel Kinka, Rhesa Ledbetter, Kerry Bringhurst, Aimee Cobabe, Jennifer Christensen and Dani Hayes.

Each year in June, the state’s top awards for journalists and broadcasters are presented by the Society for Professional Journalists. And every June, Aggies are well represented.

This year’s awards, announced June 15 by the Utah Headliners, the SPJ’s Utah chapter, continue the course.

Reporters and editors at Utah Public Radio,  competing with all of Utah’s commercial and public radio stations, came away with more than a baker’s dozen of awards. “Objectified,” the original series investigating the fallout from media’s objectivism of women’s bodies, was singled out. The series, reported, edited and produced by UPR journalists, aired in the fall of 2016. Young journalists and editors at the Utah Statesman were also recognized.

And, awards went to two faculty members in the Department of Journalism and Communication – one working in print and the other in broadcast. Reflecting all of USU's JCOM staff, both professors remain active participants in the fields they teach their journalism students.

SPJ also saluted a combined effort by UPR and communication studies professor Jason Gilmore. Gilmore led student excursions to Alabama to participate in the 2015 Selma Civil Rights March, as well as to Brazil in 2016. Gilmore and his students joined UPR to present their experiences. 

Here’s a list of the award-winning Aggies:

Category: Radio

 General news

  • 2nd place, “The Great Salt Lake” series, episode “Better Off Without Us,” Jennifer Pemberton, Utah Public Radio

General feature

  • 1st place, “Objectified” series, episode “Fat Phobia – An Exhibit,” Dani Hayes, Utah Public Radio
  • 3rd place, “A Documentary About ‘Furries’ Competes in the Slamdance Film Festival,” Melissa Allison, Utah Public Radio
  • Honorable mention, “Cowboys and Scientists,” Geoff Smith, Utah State University

Continuing coverage

  • 2nd place, “Objectified” series, episode “More Than a Body,” Kristin Munson, Kerry Bringhurst, Dani Hayes, Jennifer Christensen, Utah Public Radio

 Original series

  • 1st place, “54 Strong: A Civil Rights Pilgrimage,” Dani Hayes, Jason Gilmore, Lauren Mata and Jarlin de Leon, Utah Public Radio
  • 3rd place, “Roots of Brazil,” Dani Hayes, Jason GIlmore, Brieann Charlesworth, Mckayle Law and Elizabeth Thomas, Utah Public Radio


  • 1st place, “Objectified: More Than a Body,” Kerry Bringhurst, Dani Hayes, Kristen Munson, Jennifer Christensen, Utah Public Radio
  • 2nd place, “When the Equal Rights Amendment Came to Utah,” Jennifer Pemberton, Utah Public Radio
  • Honorable mention, “Objectified” series, episode “Escaping the FLDS Community,” Dani Hayes, Utah Public Radio

 Best use of sound

  • 1st place, “The Science of Beer,” Daniel Kinka, Utah Public Radio
  • Honorable mention, “Elite Hall Is Bringing People Together to Enjoy Music and Dancing of the Past,” Aimee Cobabe, Utah Public Radio


  • 2nd place, “Nature’s Teaching Tools: Monarch Butterflies Brighten Up a Utah Classroom,” Rhesa Ledbetter, Utah Public Radio

 Personality profile

  • 3rd place, “One Man’s Loneliest Road Battle With Cancer Is Now a Ride Accomplished For Others,” Aimee Cobabe, Utah Public Radio
  • Honorable mention, “Objectified” series, episode “A Mother/Daughter Battle With Anorexia,” Dani Hayes, Utah Public Radio

Category: Television news

Brian Champagne, lecturer of broadcast journalism and multimedia reporting -- and confirmed car fanatic -- won the following awards:

  • Sports reporting – non-deadline: 1st place, “Trash Car Racing,” for KSTU
  • General news: 2nd place, “Idling Science,” for KSTU
  • Editing: 2nd place, “Beetle Sales Help,” for KSTU
  • Continuing coverage: 1st place, “Automotive’s Effect on You,” for KSTU
  • Business / consumer news: 1st place, “Are You Driving a Copycar?” Brian Champagne, KSTU


Newspapers Division 1 (newspapers with circulations of more than 50,000 subscribers)

Matthew LaPlante, an associate professor of journalism and communication, received awards in the large newspaper category as well as the magazine category:

  • Newspaper medical/science news: 1st place, “Amputation is No Longer a Surgery of Last Resort,” The Deseret News
  • Magazine feature story: 1st place, “The Story of Water,” Shelby Ruud, Morgan Robinson and Matthew D. LaPlante, Utah State Magazine

Newspapers Division 2 (newspapers statewide with circulations of less than 50,000 subscribers)

Feature story

  • 2nd place,” All Aboard the Mays Train,” Logan Jones, Utah Statesman

Spot news

  • 1st place, “USU Administration Restricts Activities at Sexual Education Event,” Alison Berg, Utah Statesman
  • 2nd place, “President Albrecht to Retire,” Brenna Kelly, Utah Statesman


  • 1st place, “Freedom of information,” Statesman editorial board, Utah Statesman

General news

  • 3rd place, “Factory Alcohol Policy Change,” Katherine Taylor, The Utah Statesman

Military news

  • 1st place, “Then vs. Now, Isabel Forinash,”  Utah Statesman

Sports column

  • 1st place, “Debate is Not our National Pastime,” Logan Jones, Utah Statesman




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