WatchCat creator earns major journalism honor; Daily Wildcat gets 8 SPJ awards

"This just in: This is awesome!"

By Shain Bergan

While it has not yet been officially announced online (like, at a place I can link to for you), Arizona Daily Wildcat Editor-in-Chief Lance Madden has confirmed that WatchCat News-Journal Editor Shain Bergan (yours truly) will be taking home a major 2009 Society of Professional Journalists award at the organization’s convention in San Francisco on May 2. The award is in the category of Breaking News Reporting for a 4-year College or University.

The story being recognized focuses on the first day of the infamous Daily Wildcat newspaper theft, which can be seen here. I wrote the story and compiled the bulk of the news gathering and reporting, with then-News Editor Tim McDonnell and a few reporters contributing some of the quotes and additional information. Then-Editor-in-Chief Alex Dalenberg edited the piece and re-organized some key parts—hence the quintuple attribution at the end of the story. I will be in San Francisco to officially accept the award on May 2.

The Daily Wildcat will also earn seven more SPJ awards, including Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper and three individual awards for photography. We are also joined in the Breaking News category by former Daily Wildcat colleagues Ian Friedman and Carly Kennedy’s dorm baby story.

The complete list of Wildcat winners is as follows, according to an email sent to the WatchCat News-Journal from Madden:

“General News Photography-4 Year College/University – Lisa Beth Earle, “Love in the time of swine flu”
General News Photography-4 Year College/University – Lisa Beth Earle, “Magic Carpet golf torch”
Sports Photography-4 Year College/University – Michael Ignatov, “Facing Off”
Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper- 4 Year College/University – Alex Dalenberg, Justyn Dillingham and the Arizona Daily Wildcat staff

Breaking News Reporting-4 Year College/University – Ian Friedman and Carly Kennedy, “Dorm birth ends in arrest”
Breaking News Reporting-4 Year College/University – Shain Bergan, Alex Dalenberg, Carly Kennedy, Steven Kwan and Tim McDonnell, “Paper Thieves Empty Stands” (the print headline)
Sports Writing-4 Year College/University – Lance Madden, “Remembering Polkey
Sports Column Writing-4 Year College/University – Bryan Roy, “Thank you, Russ”, “Dying in the Desert“, “For love of the game”

The 2009 calendar year really seemed to be an iconic year for the Daily Wildcat, what with the switch to broadsheet only just in its beginning stages, the Jay-Z concert fiasco, the UA Transformation (including the faculty vote of “no confidence” against the president and provost), the basketball coaching search drama, and the above-mentioned stories written by myself and my fellow Daily Wildcat reporters.

A moment of corny reflection: Awards aren’t what news writing or news gathering are about, but when all of your hard work is recognized (and recognized on a major, major stage), you can’t help but be truly humbled and honored, especially when you consider all of the reporters, stories and student newspapers that did not make it onto the podium but keep the news passion going nonetheless. I’m sure my former colleagues at the Daily Wildcat feel the same way.

Also, winning awards just feels pretty damn good.

As for the individual award for Breaking News on the newspaper theft, everyone in the newsroom had a huge hand in the story, whether through phone calls, advice, support or news gathering—especially Alex Dalenberg, Tim McDonnell and another person who was not mentioned in the attribution but was still involved, Bryan Roy.

Now if only we can rack up some blogging awards here at the WatchCat

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