The Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts is pleased to recognize nine finalists that will represent Loyola Marymount University at the 2021 Southern California Journalism Awards hosted by the LA Press Club on Saturday, October 16th at the Biltmore Millennium Hotel in downtown LA.
Spanning 63 years, this annual celebration honors exceptional journalism across a variety of categories. LMU’s representation is made possible under the exceptional leadership of Evelyn McDonnell, who acted as Director of the Journalism program over the past few years. McDonnell expresses pride to the community before her colleague, Kate Pickert, steps in to take on the three-year role. “Submitting these nominations was one of my last acts as Journalism director. I am so proud of all of the finalists, students and faculty, and what we are building together here at LMU.”
Embedded in the English Department, the journalism program has evolved triumphantly since its launch in 2018, and this mark of success further illustrates potential growth. The curriculum places emphasis on project-based learning within the city of Los Angeles, providing more than 150 majors and minors with the opportunity to create a body of work that expands beyond the confines of campus life. Additionally, a host of innovative courses emphasize critical discourse surrounding the social, political, and moral issues of our time to prepare graduates for professional, ethical contributions to the field of global communication. The Jesuit educational philosophy that envelopes LMU’s journalism program is evident in review of the finalists’ entries.
Stephanie Bell is a finalist in Documentary Shorts under 25 minutes. Her film, Defending Our Crowns, examines the discrimination of Black women in the media industry. Bell speaks to creating the film as a medium to incite social change. “I would like for my documentary to inspire individual people to expand their perspective…I would like for my documentary to enact greater change beyond policy on sets.” Created to fulfill the journalism capstone requirement, the film has already seen professional success, named the best student documentary at the Angeles Film Festival, and it is competing against professional works in this awards category. Bell ’20 is featured on the cover of the current issue of LMU Magazine.
Christina Aushana and Tara Pixley are finalists in News Commentary. Their Nieman Reports think piece, “Protest Photography Can Be a Powerful Tool For and Against Black Lives Matter,” bridges the relationships between the historical and ongoing power dynamics between police surveillance of Black and brown bodies and the proliferation of digital images from photojournalists that now unwittingly support police investigative work.
Raven Yamamoto, Danica Creahan, and Robyn de Leon are finalists for Best News Writing on Campus.Their investigative news piece for Agency, “Anti-Immigrant Tweets from ASLMU Diversity and Inclusion Senator’s Past Cause Concerns,” calls attention to the contradictory political views of an ASLMU senator.
Yemayá Williams is a finalist for Best Sports/ Arts Writing. Their Agency op-ed, “Who Is More Black?,” examines the commodification of Blackness and the lack of authentic representations in Black cultural productions.
Veronica Backer Peral is a finalist for Best Feature Writing on Campus Issues. Her Loyolan op-ed, “It Was Unconstitutional and Unethical to Impeach ASLMU Senator Martinez. The Impact Will Be Long-lasting,” argues against the impeachment of ASLMU Senator for Diversity & Inclusion, Stephanie Martinez, calling the action a blatant disregard for the ASLMU constitution.
Veronica is also a finalist for Best TV Reporting. In her Loyolan segment, “Election 2020: Students Take Action Against Systemic Racism,” Backer Peral interviews the co-presidents of Brothers of Consciousness, an on-campus organization at LMU that has found success organizing for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Los Angeles Loyolan is a finalist for Best College News Website. Dedicated to informing the LMU community, the publication covers news, sports, arts, and social justice. The student-run organization is comprised of roughly 75 staff members, led by Editor-in-Chief Alyssa Story.
LMU Magazine’s podcast, Off Press, is a finalist in two categories: Pandemic Reporting, Radio (Episode 23), and Broadcast Sports, Any Outlet (Episode 19). Episode 23 is an interview with LMU alumnus Chilembwe Mason M.D., who is an emergency room doctor in the Bronx. Episode 19 is an interview with Paul Westhead, former LMU men’s basketball coach, who coached the team in the legendary Hank Gathers-Bo Kimble era.
Congratulations to all the finalists! A comprehensive list of 2021 finalists can be found on the LA Press Club website.