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Ouachita communications & media students recognized with awards by Columbia Scholastic Press Association, Arkansas College Media Association

Ouachitonian and SignalApril 30, 2021 - Abby Turner
Caroline JohnsonBen Swanger

Ben Swanger (left) and Caroline Johnson (right).

Ouachita Baptist University communications & media students have received five national Gold Circle Awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) for the Ouachitonian yearbook and 39 state awards for the Ouachitonian, Signal newspaper and Ouachita Sports Digital Network from the Arkansas College Media Association (ACMA) as the spring 2021 semester comes to a close.

The national awards were announced last week by CSPA, located in New York City, with Certificates of Merit awarded to Ouachita students Ben Swanger for sports feature writing, Caroline Johnson for organization writing and Brooke Woessner for theme and concept, division page design and people spread with mug photos. Only eight universities in the country received CSPA awards, and Ouachita was smallest university represented in the group of winners for students’ work on the Ouachitonian

The 39 statewide ACMA awards, announced virtually earlier this month, included three General Excellence awards: Ben Swanger was named Yearbook Editor of the Year for his work on the 2021 Ouachitonian, the 2020 Ouachitonian yearbook received second place and Caity Hatchett was named the second place winner for Newspaper Editor of the Year.

Swanger is a senior communications & media/sports media major from Forney, Texas; Johnson is a junior communications & media and political science double major from Springdale, Ark.; Woessner is a 2020 communications & media/strategic communications and Christian studies/Christian ministries graduate from Fayetteville, Ark.; Hatchett is a senior communications & media/sports media and history double major from Keithville, La.

Caity HatchettBrooke Woessner

Brooke Woessner (left) and Caity Hatchett (right).

"I am excited for the staff members who won national recognition from CSPA. I am proud that we can compete against large universities across the country,” said Dr. Deborah Root, advisor for the Ouachitonian and chair of Ouachita’s Rogers Department of Communications. “It says a lot about the quality of our program and our students.

“I’m so happy for Ben Swanger and Caity Hatchett and their editor awards, as well,” Root continued. “These two have committed four years to their publications, and they are very deserving of this recognition.”

“I have put in countless hours of work this school year to document the COVID-19 school year and receiving this award just proves that my work is not going unnoticed,” Swanger said. “I am proud to represent Ouachita in such an awesome way.”

“The communications department really set me up for success for the future,” he added. “Being a leader in a newsroom is invaluable experience, and I will always carry this wisdom with me into my professional career.”

“Receiving recognition for the hard work that I put into planning and finalizing each print edition and all of the late nights I spent in the newsroom is definitely something I'll treasure forever,” Hatchett said.

The 2020 edition of the Ouachitonian that received second place in General Excellence was edited by Woessner. Woessner also was recognized with 14 individual awards.

“Over half of the 2020 Ouachitonian was finished remotely, and it was a challenge when students were completing the spring semester on Zoom, and trying to secure interviews and search for photos from home,” Root said.

In total, the Ouachitonian yearbook received 27 awards and the Signal – print and online – received seven awards. In the television division, the Ouachita Sports Digital Network received two awards in sports reporting for their show “Roar Rundown.”

“I’m excited for the Ouachita Sports Digital Network,” Root said. “In its first year of existence, the OSDN team won first place in Sports Reporting.”

“I’m so proud of our students and their work and dedication in all our campus media,” Root added.

ACMA Ouachitonian staff awards include:

  • 1st place, Sports Writing – Ben Swanger
  • 1st place, Organization Layout – Brooke Woessner and Emily Barton, a junior psychology and social justice studies major from Hallsville, Texas
  • 1st place, Endsheets – Brooke Woessner
  • 1st place, Portrait Layout – Brooke Woessner
  • 2nd place, Art Illustration – Brooke Woessner
  • 2nd place, Student Life Photo – Hannah Smith, a senior Christian studies/Christian ministries, biblical studies and Christian theology major from Pine Bluff, Ark.
  • 2nd place, Student Life Writing – Houstin Kirkpatrick, a senior communications & media/strategic communications major from Gurdon, Ark.
  • 2nd place, Special Features Writing – Ethan Dial, a 2020 communications & media/multimedia journalism graduate from Little Rock, Ark.
  • 2nd place, Typographic Presentation – Brooke Woessner
  • 2nd place, Academics Writing – Gracen Goudy, a junior communications & media/communication studies major from Benton, Ark.
  • 2nd place, Portrait Layout – Brooke Woessner
  • 2nd place, Introduction/Theme/Opening – Brooke Woessner
  • 2nd place, Cover – Brooke Woessner
  • 2nd place, Academic Photo – Danielle Sourber, a 2020 communications & media/multimedia journalism graduate from Farmersville, Texas
  • 3rd place, Art Illustration – Brooke Woessner
  • 3rd place, Organization Writing – Gracen Goudy
  • 3rd place, Student Life Writing – Madison Cresswell, a senior communications & media/multimedia journalism and political science double major from North Little Rock, Ark.
  • 3rd place, Special Features Writing – Ben Swanger
  • 3rd place, Sports Writing – Ben Swanger
  • 3rd place, Academics Writing – Anna Roussel, a junior communications & media/strategic communications major from Searcy, Ark.
  • 3rd place, Organization Layout – Brooke Woessner and Emily Barton
  • 3rd place, Feature Layout – Brooke Woessner
  • 3rd place, Academic Layout – Brooke Woessner
  • 3rd place, Divider – Brooke Woessner
  • 3rd place, Organization Layout – Brooke Woessner and Emily Barton
  • Honorable Mention, Sports Photo – Levi Dade, a sophomore Christian studies/biblical studies major from Senatobia, Miss.
  • Honorable Mention, Organization Writing – Anna Roussel

ACMA Signal staff awards include:

  • 1st place, News Photo – Abby Blankenship, a junior communications & media/strategic communications major from Little Rock, Ark.
  • 1st place, Sports Photo – Caity Hatchett
  • 2nd place, Sports Photo – Hannah Smith
  • 2nd place, Feature Writing – Madeline Martin, a senior communications & media/strategic communications and musical theatre double major from Sheridan, Ark.
  • 3rd place, Sports Column – Ben Swanger
  • 3rd place, Arts and Entertainment Writing – Sara Patterson, a senior Christian studies/biblical studies major from Wylie, Texas
  • 3rd place, Podcast – Sara Patterson and Mallory Wallace, a senior communications & media/communication studies major from Longview, Texas

ACMA “Roar Rundown” staff awards include:

  • 1st place, Sports Reporting – Izzy Baughn, a sophomore communications & media and political science double major from Jonesboro, Ark.; Caity Hatchett; and Elizabeth Steely, a senior communications & media/multimedia journalism major from Conway, Ark.
  • Honorable Mention – Caleb Byrd, a 2020 communications & media/integrated communications, political science and Spanish graduate from Little Rock, Ark.; Caity Hatchett; and Josh Salim, a 2020 communications & media/sports media major from Dallas, Texas

For more information on Ouachita’s student publications or Rogers Department of Communications, contact Dr. Deborah Root at rootd@obu.edu or (870) 245-5510.


Lead photo: Ouachita communications & media students have received five national awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for the Ouachitonian yearbook and 39 state awards for their work on student publications from the Arkansas College Media Association. Photo by Tyler Rosenthal.

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