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Press Release for Friday, June 10, 2016

UNF Communication Students Place in Prestigious Statewide Journalism Competition

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

 A team of journalism students in the Department of Communication at the University of North Florida won several awards in the 2016 Florida Society of News Editors Journalism Contest, a prestigious statewide competition for journalism professionals. This is the first year FSNE opened the contest to student journalists.

Twenty UNF journalism students were recognized today at the annual FSNE awards lunch in Lake Mary, Florida, in the Student Publication division of the competition, which featured eight categories to showcase student journalism talent. UNF students won two first-place awards and a third-place award in the Features and Arts Writing and Multimedia categories respectively.

Senior Tiziana Onstead took first place in the Features and Arts Writing category for her article, “Farm-to-Table, Garden-to-Glass,” which discusses the food trend of restaurants linking up with local farms to serve fresh herbs, vegetables, fruit, dairy and meat to their customers.

Kelsey Oates and Jamie Swann, both seniors, also won in the Features and Arts Writing category. The duo came in third place for their article, “Chiappini’s: The Hidden Gem of Santa Fe,” featuring an iconic gas station in the unincorporated community of Melrose, Florida, which prides itself on its old-fashioned sense of community.

The entire team, enrolled in Dr. Paula Horvath’s Social Media for Journalism class, won first place in the Multimedia category for the website,, they created, which included social media, radio, TV, print and digital media. The class created around 70 stories for the website.

“I am so incredibly proud of this class, said Horvath, a UNF senior communication instructor. “They’re all amazing students. They attacked this project like it was an actual job and put together a website of which most professional news organizations would be proud.”

The student team included seniors Cassidy Alexander, Blake Allen, Justin Belichis, Sarah DeNicolais, Ashton Elder, Ryan Hutchins, Mark Judson, Oates, Onstead, Andre Roman, Francheska Russo, Ben Samples, Swann and Carly Wille as well as juniors Ashley Anderson, Luke Barber, Helen Mas, Megan Massion, Erin Reedy and Connor Spielmaker.

The winning website had 10,939 views over the course of the semester from more than 4,000 visitors from 10 different countries. The team’s goal was to use social media to drive traffic to its website, with Facebook driving over 2,600 views to the website and more than 150 views via Twitter.

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.