Cody J. Benjamin is a junior from Lititz, Pa. majoring in journalism and public relations. Recently, Benjamin was awarded a Keystone Press Award from the Pennsylvania News Media Association for his article “Favoritism, finance and football at IUP,” published Dec. 18, 2014 in the HawkEye, IUP's online newspaper.
Benjamin’s story reported on favoritism, financial contributions, and family connections in IUP’s NCAA Division II football program.
The following directly quotes from the story about Benjamin in the HawkEye:
Benjamin contacted more than 40 sources for the story, including nearly two dozen current and former players, seven university administrators, four coaches and seven other sources, to verify allegations made by the program’s players.
Readership statistics show that the story is the most-read in the HawkEye’s history.
Benjamin said he was honored.
“I’m sincerely grateful to have my work even considered for an award,” he said in a March 3 e-mail. “I know I can still improve, but this was an encouraging stepping stone and an invaluable learning experience.”
IUP journalism professor David Loomis, editor of the HawkEye, praised the work of Benjamin, sports editor of the Penn, the campus’ student newspaper.
“Cody’s story and its half-dozen sidebars reflect some of the most thorough reporting the HawkEye ever has published,” Loomis said. “His work is a model of professional-grade sports journalism, it’s a first-rate example of investigative public-service reporting, and readers clearly responded to it.”
Loomis added that Benjamin’s competition for the annual statewide journalism awards included the state’s top schools, such as Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Penn State.
Benjamin’s story was published as part of the Civic Project, a decade-long, community-focused, watchdog-journalism initiative rooted in News Reporting classes taught by Loomis.
The latest award continues a string of honors that have flowed from the statewide press association to the digital online newspaper and the IUP journalism program. Six times student investigative stories published by the HawkEye have been submitted to the Keystone Awards competition. Six times they have won awards.
Two earlier Keystone awards were won for Civic Project stories published in print news media before Loomis created the digital newspaper in 2008.