Missouri Journalism students honored with SPJ Mark of Excellence awards

Society of Professional Journalists 2020 Mark of Excellence Awards

Staff of Vox Magazine recognized as Best Student Magazine and Best Affiliated Website

Columbia, Mo. (May 4, 2020) — The published work of 21 Missouri School of Journalism students at KBIA-FM and Vox Magazine has earned Region 7 Mark of Excellence Awards, including nine first-place wins, in a competition sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists for the best in student journalism.

SPJ Region 7 includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. First-place regional winners advance to the national round of judging, which is ongoing. National winners will be announced in mid-May.

“It’s always gratifying to see the work of our students recognized this way,” said Heather Lamb, associate professor and Vox editorial director. “Every piece represents a collaboration – not only among the magazine staff, but also with the incredible people in our community who let us tell their stories.”

The staff of Vox Magazine won two categories: Best Student Magazine and Best Affiliated Website.

A group of digital editors and journalism teaching assistants manage all digital products at Vox, including the website, newsletters, analytics and social media.

“Our team is small and mighty,” said Sara Shipley Hiles, associate professor and Vox digital director. “It’s gratifying to see their hard work recognized.”

MOE Awards entries are judged by professionals with at least three years of journalism experience. Judges were directed to choose entries they felt were among the best in student journalism. School divisions are based on student enrollment, including both graduate and undergraduate. Large schools have at least 10,000 students and small schools have 9,999 or fewer students.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. The School’s chapter was founded in 1913.

Region 7 Mark of Excellence Awards went to the following Missouri Journalism students:



  • Best Student Magazine
    • Winner: Vox Magazine, by staff of Vox Magazine
  • Non-Fiction Magazine Article
    • Winner: Catherine Wendlandt, Under the Table
    • Finalist: Michael Connolly, Smoker’s Paradise
    • Finalist: Staff of Vox Magazine, United in Debt


  • Radio Feature
    • Winner: Emily Aiken, Preserving Pennytown: A small church contains a world of memories
    • Finalist: Sidney Steele: Ayanna Shivers is making history as mayor of Mexico, Mo.
  • Radio In-Depth Reporting
    • Winner: Isabel Lohman and Mawa Iqbal: After semester of tumult, Columbia parents and officials still at odds over police in schools
    • Finalist: Aviva Okeson-Haberman, Anna Lewis and Caitlyn Rosen: A Roe v. Wade challenge could be coming. Will it come from Missouri?
  • Radio News Reporting
    • Finalist: Kassidy Arena: ASL is on the rise – but it’s not always part of the deaf experience
    • Finalist: Zia Kelly: New center addresses recidivism by connecting former offenders with resources


  • Online News Reporting
    • Winner: Aviva Okeson-Haberman: How Missouri’s Senate passed a restrictive abortion bill overnight
  • Online Feature Reporting
    • Finalist: Cary Littlejohn, Brooke Johnson, Sten Spinella and Elena Cruz: Finding Home
  • Online In-Depth Reporting
    • Finalist: Kyra Haas and Aviva Okeson-Haberman: Thousands call Missouri’s adult abuse hotline, but only some get through
  • Best Affiliated Website


  • Podcast
    • Finalist: Molly Dove: Intersection – Combating hunger in Missouri
    • Finalist: Kassidy Arena: Intersection – Navigating the world of sound with hearing loss


  • Online/Digital Feature Videography
    • Winner: Fiona Murphy: Sharp End

About KBIA

KBIA, mid-Missouri’s NPR-member station, reaches 15 counties and has served mid-Missouri since 1972. KBIA is a university-licensed, community-supported not-for-profit institution, actively involved in the life of the mid-Missouri area. The station is the area’s largest provider of arts programming, serving more than 30,000 listeners and members each week.

About Vox Magazine

Vox Magazine is an award-winning, cross-platform city publication where Missouri School of Journalism students, supervised by professionals, are the writers, editors, designers, photographers and managers. It keeps readers informed about what is happening and where to be in Columbia, Mo. Vox publishes a monthly print edition and a website, providing insight on local news and culture. The print edition has a circulation of 10,000 and is distributed in the Columbia Missourian on the last Thursday of the month. It can also be picked up at drop locations around Columbia.

Updated: November 12, 2020

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