Wheel Staff Win 2 Society of Professional Journalists Awards

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) awarded staff of The Emory Wheel two Mark of Excellence Awards for general news reporting and editorial writing in 2018.

Managing Editor Christina Yan (21B) and Executive Editor Richard Chess (20C) won in the “General News Reporting (Large) 10,000+ Students” category for their coverage of Emory Law Professor Paul J. Zwier II’s use of the N-word in class. About 200 people gathered to protest the professor’s language. Emory placed Zwier on paid administrative leave after he allegedly repeated the same racial slur following the initial incident.

In the “Editorial Writing” category, the Wheel’s Editorial Board beat out finalists from Auburn University (Ala.) and the University of Alabama. The Wheel submitted three editorials for SPJ to evaluate. One editorial critiqued Emory’s Student Government Association (SGA) website for being antiquated and called on student leaders to update the site with representative contact information. Following publication, SGA disabled access to its website. Another submission commented on a proposed MARTA expansion, urging “Emory administration and community members” to support two public transportation bills. The final submission addressed the selection of Jane Wang (22C) to both College Council and Constitutional Council. The Editorial Board called for separation of powers between the branches of student government.

In the “General News Reporting (Large) 10,000+ Students” category, Yan and Chess also placed as finalists for their coverage of the 2018 SGA presidential election, which included allegations of electoral misconduct by candidates Dwight Ma (17Ox, 19C) and Mario Karras (17Ox, 19B). Four students accused Ma of buying drinks at Maggie’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill in exchange for votes, but Ma alleged that Karras colluded with friends to create phony stories. All charges were eventually dismissed by the Elections Board, however, Elections Board Chair Betty Zhang (20C) resigned for her handling of the election. Ma was elected SGA president in April 2018 and impeached last month for “abuse of power.”

The Wheel competed against other Region 3 collegiate publications from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Regional winners will compete against each other to be honored at the Excellence in Journalism Conference in San Antonio in September, according to SPJ’s website.