All posts by Amanda Womac

Region 12 Mark of Excellence Awards winners announced in Knoxville, Tennessee

The Society of Professional Journalists recognizes the best collegiate journalism in Region 12 with 2016 Mark of Excellence Awards winners.

SPJ’s Region 12 comprises Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Honorees received award certificates the weekend of March 31 at the Region 12 Conference. First-place winners will compete at the national level among other regional MOE winners from the 12 SPJ regions.

National winners will be notified in the late spring and will be recognized at the Excellence in Journalism conference in Anaheim, California.

Click here to see the list of Region 12 2016 Mark of Excellence Awards winners.


Region 12 Spring Conference Schedule

8 a.m. – Registration and morning networking

9 a.m. – Discussion of Journalism in the South

10 a.m. – Break, 15 minutes

10:15 a.m. –  Google Tools for Your Newsroom Part 1: Basics

12:15 p.m. – Walk to International House for lunch

12:30 p.m. – Mark of Excellence Awards Lunch

1:45 p.m. – Walk to Multicultural Center for sessions

2 p.m. –  Google Tools for Your Newsroom Part 2: Deep Dive

4:15 p.m. – Editing Mistakes and Mishaps

5 p.m. – Wrap up conference

6 p.m. – Post-conference social at Downtown Grill and Brewery

Georgiana Vines

Georgiana Vines
Political Columnist
Knoxville News Sentinnel

Georgiana Vines is retired associate editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee. She continues to write a political news column once a week and has done a monthly feature, “Where Are They Now,” since 2013.

After retiring in 2005, she became the Frank Ahlgren Distinguished Lecturer in Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee, teaching public affairs reporting, media management and business journalism.

She has 50 years of experience as a journalist, including as the last editor of the Herald-Post in El Paso, Tex., when The E.W. Scripps Co. closed the paper in 1997. She also worked for newspapers in Florida and Wisconsin. She was inducted into the Friends of Literacy’s East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame with the Lifetime Achievement award on Oct. 22, 2015. In 2016,  she was recognized as a member of the 50 Year Club of the Tennessee Press Association.

She has been active in the Society of Professionals Journalists, serving as national president in 1992-93. She received SPJ’s Wells Key, its highest honor for volunteerism and the profession, in 1996. She also served as a member and secretary of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation board of directors. She is a past president of the SPJ East Tennessee Pro Chapter, and a board member of the Front Page Foundation, a new 501c3 formed to assist the East Tennessee SPJ chapter and support other journalism activities.

Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon
Professor of Journalism
UT, Knoxville

Mark D. Harmon is a professor of journalism and electronic media at the University of Tennessee.  He also has worked as a radio reporter, television news producer, and currently writes a weekly column for the Knoxville News Sentinel.

He won a national Sigma Delta Chi award for his columns published in 2014.  From 2006 to 2010 he was an elected Knox County Commissioner.

Kelly Kissel

Kelly Kissel
News Editor
The Associated Press

Kelly P. Kissel joined The Associated Press in New Orleans in 1984 a week before graduating from Louisiana State University. After holding correspondences in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, he was named Arkansas news editor during the Whitewater and Paula Jones investigations in 1994 and from 2009 to early 2017 was also Oklahoma news editor.

Kissel worked at newspapers and commercial radio and TV while in high school and college and won the William Randolph Hearst National Collegiate Writing Championship during his senior year at LSU.

Annie Culver

Annie Culver
Digital director

A professor once told me “the world needs less button pushers and more people who understand why they are pushing the buttons.”

I am currently the digital director at the ABC-affiliate news station WATE 6 On Your Side in Knoxville where I get the opportunity daily to re-imagine the role digital plays in a television newsroom and help create a “digital first” culture.

Learning has been my passion since I was a young girl. Once I began reading and talking, my parents couldn’t get me to stop. I devoured every book I could get my hands on.

As I got older, journalism appealed to me because it offered an excuse to learn about other people and how things work. I was hired on as one of the first social media managers in East Tennessee, growing WATE-TV’s social media following from a couple thousand likes on Facebook to hundreds of thousands of followers on multiple platforms.

During that time I really discovered my love of writing. I believe good journalism goes beyond “the talking head” or putting word on a paper; it creates and affects change.

Journalism in the South

How do journalists do our job in an era where the Trump administration constantly tries to undermine the Fourth Estate?

What is “fake news” and how can we as journalists minimize harm in the social media era?

We’ll kick off our Region 12 conference with these and other questions during the “State of Journalism in the South” discussion.

Panelists include:

Georgiana Vines, political columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel, will moderate.

Editing Mistakes and Mishapes

More and more careless, unprofessional mistakes are creeping into print, online, and on the air, and most of them could probably have been avoided.

This entertaining—sometimes hilarious—audience-participation presentation covers some of the most common, and most embarrassing,  spelling, grammatical, and factual errors that have made their way recently into the so-called Mainstream Media.

Presenter: Professor Robert Buckman

Robert Buckman

Robert Buckman is professor of communication at the University of Louisiana Lafayette, teaching reporting, feature writing, editing, and a graduate seminar in Media and Democracy. He holds a BA in journalism and political science and a MA in political science from Texas Christian University and a doctorate in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

A veteran of the free-wheeling days of Texas journalism of the 1960s, ’70s, and ‘80s, he was a reporter for the Arlington Citizen-Journal and the Fort Worth Press and covered the Texas Legislature in the ‘80s for the weekly Fort Worth News-Tribune. He was an editor for the Foreign Broadcast Information Service from 1974-80, including three months in Panama and 29 months in Paraguay.

He joined the UL Lafayette faculty in 1989, and served a one-semester Fulbright Fellowship teaching public affairs reporting at Catholic University of Chile in 1991.  From 1989-2009, he covered elections in Latin America and Louisiana as a freelancer for several different newspapers, and he has written about threats to press freedom in Latin America for Quill.

He has dedicated his declining years to upholding the standards of quality journalism.

Travel and Lodging

We do not have a conference hotel this year because there are so many options for accommodations in Knoxville. Click here for a list of the Top 10 closest hotels to the UT campus.

McGhee Tyson Airport is the closest airport to Knoxville and located about 20 minutes south of the city.

There are two bus options: MegaBus and Greyhound. Both stations are located in Downtown Knoxville.

If you have any questions or need further information about getting to and staying in Knoxville, please contact Amanda Womac.