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Images from the 2018 SEJC Convention at Harding

Sonia Nazario, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author with the Los Angeles Times, was the convention’s keynote speaker at the Best of the South Awards Banquet. She urged journalists to be open-minded but to take an activist stand if necessary to correct the ills of society. Photo by Robert Buckman
Emmalyne Kwasny, right, editor of The Reflector at Mississippi State University, was named College Journalist of the Year. At left is the paper’s faculty adviser and MSU faculty delegate to the SEJC, Frances McDavid.
Photo by Lindsey Pace
Ginger Blackstone, Ph.D., assistant professor of broadcast journalism at Harding University, left, discusses her experiences as a CNN producer and how to tell compelling stories beyond the local daily news programs. Larry Foley, Ph.D., of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, participated in the discussion via Skype. At right is Ansley Watson, reporter with KATV Channel 7 in Little Rock, who moderated. Blackstone also is the producer of the documentary, “Missing Micah,” about the disappearance and murder of Harding nursing alumna Micah Pate in Memphis in 2009. Pate’s husband, who insisted the shooting was accidental, is serving a 25-year term in Tennessee. There was a screening of the documentary on opening night of the convention, Feb. 15. Photo by Robert Buckman
An oversized Rebekah Allen, a reporter for The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who has written more than 20 stories related to the death of Max Gruver at Louisiana State University, appeared via Skype as part of a panel on obtaining information on fraternity hazing violations from unwilling university administrators. Seated are, from left, Dwayne Fatherree, news director of KADN-TV in Lafayette, Louisiana; Kailey Broussard, managing editor of The Vermilion at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; and moderator Robert Buckman. Fatherree and Broussard battled UL Lafayette for information on a hazing-related death there. Photo by Julissa Lopez

More than a hundred students and faculty turned out Saturday morning for the panel, “Learning from the Little Rock Nine.” Photojournalist Philip Holsinger, seated on stage at left, and John Kirk, Ph.D., director of the Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, discussed the historical impact of the 1957 crisis at Central High School in Little Rock, when federal troops were called out to enforce a court order to admit the first nine black students. At right is the moderator, Kaleb Turner of Harding University. Photos by Robert Buckman

More than 20 schools were represented at the annual business meeting the afternoon of Feb. 16. Leon Alligood of Middle Tennessee State University, which will host next year’s convention, succeeded Katharine Ramirez of Harding as president. Photos by Robert Buckman
Participating schools each year bring a stack of their newspapers as “show and tell.” Photo by Robert Buckman

Students from various schools took a breather and got to know one another after they completed their assignments for the onsite competitions. Photos by Robert Buckman
SEJC President Katherine Ramirez of Harding University, left, chats with last year’s president, Patricia Thompson of Ole Miss, in the registration area. Photo by Robert Buckman
SEJC Vice President Amy Jones of the University of West Alabama, left, discusses details of the 2017 Best of the South competition with Dorren Robinson of Belmont University. Photo by Robert Buckman
Catherine Luther, Ph.D., of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, brought her school into the SEJC at the convention and took advantage of the opportunity to do a little recruiting. Photo by Kazu Fujisawa


2018 SEJC convention now part of history

About 250 registrants attended the Best of the South Awards Banquet on Feb. 16. Photos by Robert Buckman

A total of 213 students and 37 faculty advisers from 28 schools in seven states participated in the 32nd SEJC Convention, hosted by Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, Feb. 15-17.
Amber Narro of Southeastern Louisiana University received the Journalism Educator of the Year Award, and Emmalyne Kwasny of Mississippi State University was named College Journalist of the Year at the Best of the South Awards Banquet on Feb. 16.
The 2017 BOTS competition drew 412 contestants from 30 schools.
Four new schools were admitted to the SEJC at the business meeting that day: Louisiana College, the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, the University of Central Arkansas and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Leon Alligood of Middle Tennessee State University was installed as the new president, succeeding Katherine Ramirez of Harding University. MTSU will be the host for next year’s convention. The University of Southern Mississippi was approved as the convention host for 2020.
The faculty delegates also discussed the situation at Xavier University in New Orleans, which summarily terminated its long-time newspaper adviser and SEJC faculty delegate, Melinda Shelton, and discontinued the print edition of the student newspaper, the Xavier Herald.
The delegates also paid tribute to Thom Storey, the long-time faculty delegate from Belmont University in Nashville, who died Jan. 10 after a long battle with cancer.
Sonia Nazario, an author and Pulitzer Prize-winning feature for the Los Angeles Times, was the keynote speaker at the BOTS Awards Banquet. The daughter of an Argentine immigrant, she has specialized in reporting on malnourished children, the children of drug addicts and immigration.
She is the author of “Enrique’s Journey,” a book based on her 2003 series in the Times of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the U.S. The 2003 series won the Pulitzer for feature writing.
Nazario stressed that although it is important for journalists to examine issues from all angles, there comes a time when activism is necessary.
“I didn’t go into journalism because I loved to write,” she said. “I went into journalism because I had something to say. I had a boatload of opinions! But I wanted to weigh into reporting with an open mind.”
She began her career at 21 as a foreign correspondent in Latin America for the Wall Street Journal.
“Emnrique’s Journey,” which was on sale at the banquet, won more than two dozen awards besides the Pulitzer, including the George Polk Award for International Reporting. She was also a Pulitzer finalist in 1998 for her reporting on children of addicts, and in 1994 she won a Polk Award for local reporting on hunger among schoolchildren in California.
She warned that “no democracy can stay in power without a vibrant press.”