The Pennsylvania Newspaper Association announced on March 4, 2013, that it will award one of its top collegiate prizes for watchdog reporting to three IUP Journalism Department students.
Second-place winners of the 2013 collegiate Keystone Press Award for Public Service/Enterprise reporting are juniors Aleda Johnson, Abbey Zelko, and Charlene Adams. They investigated a controversial debate over municipal regulation of transient vendors in Indiana borough. Their multimedia reporting examined business-community complaints that sidewalk vendors were harming the restaurant industry in the town. The story cast doubt on the claims.
The story appeared December 21 in the online newspaper the HawkEye as part of the Civic Project, a nine-year-old, community-focused, watchdog-journalism initiative rooted in News Reporting classes taught by IUP journalism professor David Loomis, Ph.D.
Editor Loomis praised the students’ reporting.
“They helped make sense of this perennial transient-vendor conflict,” Loomis said. “Much of the daily news coverage was he-said, she-said. The students researched tax-revenue data, among other things, to add context and meaning for citizens. The multimedia presentation added value, too.”
Loomis described the Keystone award as the Pennsylvania collegiate equivalent of the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
“It’s a big deal for the winners’ academic careers, their professional prospects, the HawkEye, and for the Journalism Department,” Loomis said.
Loomis noted that this year’s competition included some of the state's biggest universities and most respected journalism programs, including Temple University, which took first place in the category. The IUP students’ award continues an unbroken stream of such awards for the HawkEye. Four times student investigative stories have been submitted to the Keystone Award competition; four times they have won first or second place.
Winners will be honored at an April 10 PNA luncheon in Hershey.