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The Universe claimed eight first-place awards and 14 other awards, more than all other Utah collegiate publications combined, in an annual competition sponsored by the Utah Headliners chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

BYU student winners, announced June 20, are Mason Porter for best personality profile; Katie Harmer for best opinion column; James Gardner for best front page design; Krista Roy for best general feature; Andrew Devey, Kate Bennion and Miriam Shumway for a team effort for best continuing coverage; Elizabeth Edwards, Hunter Schwarz, Heather Daley, Kelly Bluth and Lok Yi Chan, whose writing combined to win best series; Chris Bunker for best feature photo and Sarah Hill for best sports feature photo.

The competition compared The Universe’s work against collegiate and professional publications of a similar size, for the most part. Exceptions where categories combined all publication sizes include art illustrations, where Universe chief photographer Chris Bunker took third place, and single-page design, where The Universe also took third.

The annual competition follows by two months a separate Mark of Excellence contest sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists that is just for collegiate publications. In that regional competition, which included Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, The Universe swept the in-depth reporting awards for newspapers in its size category, claimed first-place honors in breaking news reporting, general news reporting and photo illustrations and was recognized with other awards.

Unlike some campuses where the student publication is independent, The Universe is an integrated laboratory newspaper. There is significant interplay among students, faculty and The Universe’s administrative staff. Reporters for The Universe are communications majors focusing on journalism or public relations, and the publication has an end-to-end business model and functions largely on advertising revenue.

“This is the advantage of having a journalism lab. Faculty and staff mentor students in the actual creation, production, writing and editing of print and digital media,” said Ed Adams, chair of BYU’s Department of Communications.

The good competition showing also overlays a year of transition. One year ago The Universe (then the Daily Universe) went from daily to weekly print publication as part of the emphasis on its “digital first” initiative, which includes The Universe’s online presence at and its iPhone and Android mobile news apps.

Source:  The Universe