The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) awarded The Emory Wheel with the Corbin Gwaltney Award for Best All-Around Student Newspaper in SPJ’s Region 3, in addition to six first-place Region 3 Mark of Excellence Awards in the “small” university category.

Former Editors-in-Chief Matthew Chupack (24C) and Sarah Davis (22Ox, 24C) and News Editor Jack Rutherford (27C) won the “Breaking News Reporting” category with their article “University president denounces ‘antisemitic’ rhetoric at campus protest,” which covered an Oct. 25 “Stop Cop City” and pro-Palestine demonstration. They also reported on University President Gregory Fenves’ response to the demonstration and the reactions of community members.

Chupack said he was “very happy” that SPJ recognized the piece, given the importance of the topic. Chupack added that he and his co-writers aimed to cover various community reactions to Fenves’ email to ensure that the article was not biased. 

“There was a lot of dialogue surrounding this article after it dropped as a response to the initial email that Fenves sent, because there were a lot of people upset with Fenves’ message, but also a lot of people who were appreciative of his message,” Chupack said. 

Davis added that the piece was written “on the spot,” as Fenves’ email came at the same time as a water main break, which caused the library to be evacuated. Davis said she was proud of the Wheel staff for working collaboratively on both breaking news pieces. 

Opinion Editor Safa Wahidi (23Ox, 26C) won the national “Cultural Criticism” category for her opinion column “Wahidi’s What’s Happening,” which includes stories covering current political and social issues such as fourth-wave feminism and South Asian representation in media

Wahidi has always been a fan of pop culture, and writing her column has helped her discuss current cultural trends. 

“Writing for the Wheel in general has made me a more competent person, and I think that speaks to the power of opinion journalism,” Wahidi said. “I’ve definitely learned about AP style and about the editing process, but I think beyond that, I’ve learned what my perspective is and what I want to say about the world.”

Wahidi was the only member of the Wheel staff to win a national award, again winning for “Wahidi’s What’s Happening.”

Former Managing Editor Claire Fenton (24C) won the “Sports Writing” category with her article “Black student-athlete group to ‘bridge the gap,’ empower Emory athletes,” which explores Emory’s Black Student Athlete Group’s mission of supporting Black student-athletes. 

Fenton, who has previously won two SPJ awards, said that winning is always a “pleasant surprise.”

“It’s never something that you write an article hoping it’ll happen,” Fenton said. “You just try to do the best work that you can in the moment journalistically to tell the story, and then if it gets recognized, great. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Fenton’s piece was a national finalist for sports writing in the small division of schools. 

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) awarded the Wheel with seven first-place Region 3 Mark of Excellence Awards for best student journalism. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Staff Writer Pilar Rossi (25C) won the “Sports Column Writing” category for her piece “Title IX 50th anniversary reflections from a female collegiate athlete.” Rossi said that the piece particularly stood out to her because it allowed her to reflect on her own experiences. 

“This was a moment where I got to speak on my own experiences and not just talk about the success of another team,” Rossi said. “I got to use my voice and share my own thoughts as a female athlete.” 

Rossi added that she hopes that women can be inspired by SPJ’s recognition of her article and use their voices to continue to speak out against gender inequality in sports. 

Former Visual Editor Hayley Powers (24C) and Staff Photographer Alya Khoury (26C) won the “Photo Essay/Slideshow” category with their photo essay “Alumni: Then and now,” which showcased old pictures of Emory alumni alongside photos that Powers and Khoury recreated on campus during the 2023 homecoming weekend. 

Khoury was inspired to recreate memories of alumni and do what she described as “conserving the college experience” for alumni. She enjoyed the collaborative process with Powers and the opportunity to meet new people for the piece.

“We divided and conquered the interviews,” Khoury said. “We both split up and talked to as many people as we could, recorded, shared the information, agreed on questions beforehand.”

Editor-in-Chief Madi Olivier (25C) and contributing writer Ilah Ross (27C) won the “Campus Reporting” category for their three-article series covering the unionization of Laney Graduate School students, which included “Graduate students file for unionization, push for better pay,” “Laney Graduate students vote to unionize” and “EmoryUnite! discusses next steps after unionization certification.”

Olivier said that being recognized for her report was “exciting.” She added that the work that she and Ross did was “really in-depth.” Compared to other media outlets, Olivier felt that the Wheel’s continuous coverage was the most detailed, and included the most student perspectives. 

Additionally, Olivier commended the work of the Wheel staff that contributed to the newspaper winning the Corbin Gwaltney Award.

“That reflects the hard work put in by every single member of the Wheel,” Olivier said. “Whether they’re an editor that puts in hours and hours or a reporter who’s done one story. It really falls back on the work that we’ve all done, and I’m really proud of everyone who was involved.”

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