UNA Flor-Ala Editor named SPJ Mark of Excellence finalist

Ashley Remkus

Staff Report

The Society of Professional Journalists named The Flor-Ala’s News Editor Ashley Remkus a finalist in the “General News Reporting — Small” category for the 2015 Mark of Excellence Awards April 1.

Remkus’s story, “Title IX investigation stops body fat testing of auxiliary line” placed her as one of three finalists in Region 3, comprising all colleges and universities in Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia with fewer than 10,000 students.

Student publications around the nation submit their top stories for the Mark of Excellence Awards, which are judged by professional journalists, according to the SPJ website.

“Judges are directed to choose only those entries they felt were outstanding work worthy of such an honor,” according to a press release published April 1. “If the judges determined that none of the entries rose to the level of excellence, no award was given.”

Remkus said despite backlash the story garnered, she feels she did her job to educate the community about issues that directly concern students.

“I’m really honored to know a story that addressed such an important issue for UNA students earned this award,” Remkus said. “As a journalist, I know media can often promote certain topics for the public to discuss. This was a topic that wasn’t published simply for the sake of being talked about, but genuinely addressed concerns of members of the Pride of Dixie, and will affect members and students to come.”

Student Media Adviser Scott Morris said the story was a difficult one for the staff to report on, yet Remkus managed to handle it in a professional manner.

“We’re proud of Ashley for being named a finalist in this contest,” Morris said. “She has put her stamp on The Flor-Ala with hard-nosed reporting about issues that directly affect students. She has helped carry the student newspaper to a higher level by being a solid writer, a great editor and good mentor for the student journalists who will follow her. She has a bright future in journalism.”

Editor-in-Chief Anna Grace Usery said Remkus’s reporting is the best she has ever seen in her three years of involvement at The Flor-Ala.

“Ashley has a knack for relaying prominent issues to the community,” she said. “This story required strict journalistic integrity, and her skills prevailed.”

Title IX Coordinator and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Tammy Jacques, who was interviewed for the story, said the most important facet of Remkus’s award was answering the call of students.

“It’s important we know the Pride of Dixie is an amazing organization with good student involvement,” Jacques said. “But it’s also important that we recognize if students have concerns, they can have those concerns addressed through writing.”