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Journey Magazine and Staff Wins Several SPJ Awards

Caleb Shelton
August 12, 2021

FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication’s award-winning student publication, Journey Magazine, won awards in five categories in the college division at the 2021 Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Sunshine State Awards. At the virtual ceremony that took place Saturday, awards were given for the performances of t journalists in Florida throughout the 2020-2021 school year—the year that the COVID-19 pandemic shut the entire world down.

After switching to a completely digital platform, the Journey staff secured 1st place in Best Website and Best Student Publication.

“I’m really honored to have mine and my staff’s work recognized in this way. We really put in a lot of work into the magazine. We all had many sleepless nights, and I remember stressing about the direction of the magazine and the Women’s Issue. I spent a lot of time in the beginning second guessing my vision, but toward the end when I had the final draft in my email, I was really proud,” said Dejania Oliver, former editor in chief of the magazine.

The staff did not stop there. Aiyana Ishmael, Madeline Smith and Mia Uzzell won 1st place for Best Coverage of Race and Underrepresented Communities and 2nd place for Best Multimedia Feature for the project Uncensored: Being Young and Black in America. The project was produced amid a rise in protests across the country following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and was strategically released on Juneteenth.

“We were on a very tight deadline for the project. We only had two weeks to produce the project because we wanted to be first to put out this, sort of, evergreen news. We saw other publications put out stories during that time, but not as comprehensive as Uncensored. We looked at all sides—what it was like to be young protestors on the frontlines, what it was like for the mental health of those outside of the frontlines, what it was like for young black journalists and what it was like seeing #sayhername movement being co-opted,” said Uzzel, junior journalism student and managing editor at the time.

Uzzel also shared that she and her team are grateful for the awards and the being amplification of their work, but what supersedes all is seeing the impact of the project. Ishmael, former editor in chief and staff member of Journey also won 3rd place for College Journalist of the year.

The staff is grateful for Professor Francine Huff, former advisor of the magazine, for allowing them to have full creative freedom and guiding them throughout the school year.

“I am pleased to see the work of the Journey staff being recognized by the SPJ Sunshine State Awards,” said Huff, who is now the director of Journalism School Partnerships at Solutions Journalism Network. “It was an honor to work with the Journey staff while I was the Knight Chair at FAMU. Their hard work, leadership, creativity and dedication to the craft of journalism truly makes them worthy of this honor.”