UM Journalism Students, Projects Bring Home Excellence Awards

April 16, 2018

MISSOULA – Several students in the School of Journalism at the University of Montana are winners and finalists in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Awards for large universities in Region 10.

Student reporting and production was honored in three group projects led by UM School of Journalism faculty.

  • “The Meth Effect” won for online in-depth reporting. The project examined the Montana people and programs affected by an influx of cases caused by methamphetamine use in Montana. The project was led by School of Journalism faculty Jule Banville and Lee Banville. See the project at
  • “UM to Fukushima: Finding Home After Fallout” won for Online News Reporting. This project examined the challenges the people of northeastern Japan faced as government support ended for people evacuated after the Great Northeast Earthquake and related nuclear plant meltdown. It was a part of the annual Montana Journalism Abroad undertaking and was led by faculty members Nadia White and Denise Dowling, with staff support from Cameron Bucheit and in-country support from photojournalist and UM journalism alumnus Keiji Fujimoto. See the project at
  • UM News was a finalist for the Best All-Around Newscast. UM News is a weekly television and online news production created by reporting and production teams of students. It is overseen by faculty members Kevin Tompkins and Ray Fanning.

Seven graduate students won individual awards or participated on winning teams. These include:

  • Nora Saks in radio news, features and with “The Meth Effect” team.
  • Olga Kreimer in nonfiction magazine articlefor a story on a proposed bottled water plant in the Flathead Valley. Her reporting was funded by the School of Journalism’s Crown Reporting Project.
  • Zachariah Bryan, Katy Spence and Jana Wiegand as part of the “UM to Fukushima: Finding Home After Fallout” team.
  • Matt Blois, Beau Baker and Saks as part of “The Meth Effect.”

UM’s undergraduate winners were:

  • Lucy Tompkins in feature writing
  • Jackson Wagner in sports writing.
  • Liam Keshishianin sports
  • Meri DeMarois TV feature reporting.
  • DJ Stewart TV sports reporting.

Undergraduate finalists include:

  • Rick Rowan in radio news.
  • Cal Reynolds in general column writing.
  • Tailyr Irvinein breaking news photography.
  • Hope Freierin breaking news photography.
  • Kate Cier in radio feature.
  • Rosie Costain in radio feature. 
  • Mederios Whitworth-Babb in TV feature reporting.

The Mark of Excellence Awards honor the best in collegiate journalism. First-place regional winners advance to the national competition. With nearly 7,500 members, the Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Region 10 comprises Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and Montana.


Contact: Nadia White, associate professor, UM School of Journalism, 406-243-2227,