Missouri Students Honored with National Mark of Excellence Awards

By Courtney Suthoff

Columbia, Mo. (July 7, 2005) — Five Missouri School of Journalism students recently received honors at the 2004 National Mark of Excellence Awards. The annual awards, given by the Society of Professional Journalists, honor the best journalism students by recognizing a national winner and two finalists in each of the 45 categories.

To qualify for the national contest, students had to place first in their respective categories at the Region 7 Conference held in Springfield on April 1-2.

“Our reporting students are self-starters and smart. When the faculty editors at KOMU (NBC) and KBIA-FM (NPR) give our best students a little encouragement and some serious editing, marvelous journalism results. These four Electronic Journalism students each had several good stories, which could have won the prestigious SPJ award,” said Kent Collins, chair of Electronic Journalism.

Kyle Palmer
Kyle Palmer
Sadie Gurman
Sadie Gurman

Sadie Gurman was a National Finalist in the in-depth reporting category. A junior from Denver, Colo., Gurman is majoring in news-editorial. She has interned with The Denver Post and the National Newspaper Association. Gurman will graduate in 2006 and plans to pursue a career in newspaper reporting.

Kyle Palmer of Independence, Mo., was a National Finalist in the radio sports reporting category. A May 2005 graduate, Palmer focused his journalism studies on broadcast news and earned a minor in political science. Palmer currently works full-time as a reporter and afternoon news anchor for KBIA, the number two most-listened-to public radio station in the United States.

Scott Schaefer of Montgomery City, Mo., was a National Finalist in the television feature photography category. He graduated in December 2004 with a broadcast news journalism degree. Schaefer is employed at KOMU as a staff photographer and live truck operator, and he also enjoys working with students in the broadcast field.

August Skamenca
August Skamenca
Scott Schaefer
Scott Schaefer

Blair Simmons was a National Finalist in the television in-depth reporting category. She graduated in December 2005 with a broadcast news emphasis. She is working as a general assignment reporter at WPSD, a NBC affiliate, in Paducah, Ky.

August Skamenca, a broadcast major from Denver, Colo. was a National Finalist in the radio spot news reporting category. His professional experience includes reporting on the Oklahoma City, Okla., bombing trials and Columbine (Colo.) High School massacre. He also has been a reporter for KBIA and freelances for national radio networks and a St. Louis radio syndication service.

National winners and finalists will be recognized during the Mark of Excellence Luncheon on Oct. 17, at the SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference in Las Vegas.

“SPJ’s Mark of Excellence sets a high standard for the School’s journalism students, and our performance speaks volumes about the quality of their work,” said Charles N. Davis, SPJ advisor. “Having students representing print journalism, radio and television shows the breadth of the talent in the School of Journalism.”

In addition to the five finalists, seven other Missouri students and KOMU participated in this year’s contest. More than 3,000 entries in 45 categories were submitted.


Courtney Suthoff of Hazlehurst, Miss., is a senior advertising major. She is a marketing intern for the University of Missouri’s Athletic Department. After graduation in December, Suthoff plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in public relations.

Updated: April 7, 2020

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