The News takes home second place General Excellence award from 2022 KPA Convention


From left to right: Jakob Milani, Dionte Berry, Emery Wainscott and Jill Smith holding The News’ second place general excellence award. (Carol Terracina Hartman/The News

Erinn Finley, News Editor

The Murray State News staff won 12 awards at the Kentucky Press Association conference, including a second place for general excellence in the student publications class 1 category at the Kentucky Press Association conference in Lexington, Kentucky, for the 2022 school year.

Carol Terracina-Hartman, the faculty adviser for The News, said the KPA convention had a broad range of programming for both faculty advisers and students. 

“It’s always valuable to interact with not only advisers from sister campuses but also potential future employers of Murray State [Journalism and Mass Communications] students,” Terracina-Hartman said. 

Terracina-Hartman said she was excited for The News staff and their achievements at the recent convention. 

“I am thrilled that The News staffers—when judged against their peers—again come out on top,” Terracina-Hartman said. “These awards honor their hard work, commitment to ethical newsgathering and overall excellent journalism production.”

Dionte Berry is the editor-in-chief for The News and a senior journalism major. He has worked at The News since fall 2019, performing multiple jobs such as contributing writer, features editor and news editor. 

Berry won a Certificate of Merit for best editorial writer, a first place for best feature story as well as best extended coverage story, a second place for best editorial page, a third place for best front page and a shared first place for best picture essay with photographer Emma Fisher and photography editor Rebeca Mertins Chiodini.

“The awards are significant to us because it is another symbol showing us that The Murray State News is doing something right and that we are putting our best foot forward when it comes to reporting on our community,” Berry said. 

Emery Wainscott, chief copy editor and a senior journalism major, won second place in the investigative story category. She has been working at The News since spring 2021, starting as a staff writer, then moving on to lifestyle editor and news editor.

“This is my first time winning an award at KPA, so I felt very proud of myself,” Wainscott said. “The article that won definitely needed some improvements, but I did my best with what I had and ended up winning an award for it.”

Jakob Milani, sports editor and junior journalism major, won first place awards for “Best Sports Story” and “Best Sports Feature Story.”He has been working at The News since he was a freshman in fall 2020, beginning as a staff writer. 

“Winning these awards means a lot to me,” Milani said. “Sports journalism is something I’m very passionate about, and these awards really solidify that this is the field I want to be involved in.”

The News has encountered some issues with staffing [during the COVID-19 pandemic], so the awards also honor the staff’s hard work in producing the weekly print and digital editions. 

“The awards also mean a lot because in recent years our staff has been shrinking, and I am very proud of what we are still able to achieve,” Berry said. 

Each year a different state judges the categories and stories submitted by students. This year the Oklahoma Press Association judged the competition. Wainscott commented on the smaller staff and how proud she is of her colleagues.

“I’m super proud of everyone for the work they do and how we were able to place second in the state despite staffing issues,” Wainscott said. “I think our team and our paper stands out, and I’m very glad the Oklahoma Press Association judges recognized that.” 

Milani says he was excited to bring home second place for General Excellence. 

“I know we all work really hard here, so to see it all pay off in that way was really special to me,” Milani said. 

Berry says he is proud of  the staff, but knows The News is capable of even greater work.   

“Of course I am happy that we placed, but at the end of the day I’d love it if The News placed first for general excellence,” Berry said. “However, this shows us that there are aspects of our reporting that need to be worked on. In the 2020 KPA awards cycle, The News won first, and so I would really like to see us back on top next year.”

Terracina-Hartman said the General Excellence award shows the staff consistently applies good journalism principles in all aspects of the reporting process. 

“This award means that The News is accomplishing everything a newspaper aims for—consistent high quality,” Terracina-Hartman said. 

Milani said he also enjoyed the connections he made at the conference. 

“I got to meet plenty of great student journalists who share the same passion that I do,” Milani said. “We were all constantly tossing ideas back and forth with each other, and it was just an overall great experience.”

Wainscott said the conference lectures they attended were very informative and important to student journalists. 

“For example, we attended one about reporting on addiction and how journalists can perpetuate harm and stigma about addiction and how we can change our language and storytelling methods to combat this,” Wainscott said. “We also attended editorial roundtables where we spoke with other university newspapers to see how they deal with challenges to their paper.”

Overall, Berry said he was proud of The News staff

“No matter what, even if we would have walked away with zero awards, I am extremely proud of my staff and their dedication to The News,” Berry said.  

Terracina-Hartman commented on her appreciation for The News staff but also the rest of the Murray State community. 


These awards mean so much more just because The News staff have been operating under COVID-19 restrictions and managed to produce quality, award-winning work,” Terracina-Hartman said. “It would not be possible without the support of everyone in the JMC Department and the entire Murray State campus.” 

All Award wins:

  •  1st place Best Feature Story, Dionte Berry
  •  1st place best ongoing/extended coverage story, Dionte Berry
  •  1st place best sports feature story, Jakob Milani
  •  1st place best sports story, Jakob Milani
  •  1st place best breaking news photo, Emma Fisher
  •  1st place best picture essay, Emma Fisher, Rebeca Mertina Chiodini, and Dionte Berry
  •  Certificate of Merit Best Editorial Writer, Dionte Berry
  •  Certificate of Merit Best Video, Staff
  •  2nd place best general news photo, Emma Fisher
  •  2nd place best investigative story, Emery Wainscott
  •  2nd place best editorial page, Dionte Berry
  •  3rd place best front page, Dionte Berry