Students win big at 2022 SPJ Sunshine State Awards


The Society of Professional Journalists (Florida Pro Chapter) hosted their annual ‘Sunshine State Awards’, which was created in order to recognize outstanding professional and student journalists for that calendar year. Nominations and recipients were open to all professional print, broadcast, and online journalists in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The event was held at the NSU Art Museum in downtown Fort Lauderdale as Florida’s journalism was honored. 

This year, FIU students from the School of Communication + Journalism’s South Florida Media Network (SFMN), along with those in the student-run news organization PantherNow, were recognized immensely for their hard work during the 2021-2022 calendar year. Here’s a list of the awardees: 

Best Student Publication  

  • 1st Place: PantherNOW – Staff, PantherNOW Fall Print Edition  

Best student work in Spanish  

  • 1st Place: SFMN – Valentina Palm, El Secreto sucio de Miami Beach 

Best Profile  

  • 1st Place: SFMN – Gabriella Genao, El Caballero de Santiago 

Best Light Feature 

  • 1st Place: SFMN – Aaliyah Pasols, She made Miami chongas famous. Now she’s the voice of Selena in the new Netflix series 

Best Coverage of LGBT Issues 

  • 1st Place: SFMN – Ursula Muñoz Schaefer, Dabney Richards & Vanessa Sanchez, Transgender murders plague Puerto Rico (includes video story) 

Best Broadcast Outlet 

  • 1st Place: PantherNOW – Staff, The Roar  

Best Website  

  • 1st Place: PantherNOW – Staff, com  

Best News Photo  

  • 1st Place: PantherNOW – Julian Davis, FIU’s annual Walk on Water  

Best Sports Story  

  • 1st Place: PantherNOW – Jonathan Mayer, From JUCO Transfer to FIU Panther: The Story of Tyrese Chambers  

Best Multimedia Feature  

  • 1st Place: PantherNOW – Jordan Coll, Remembering the Life of Jerry Wright  

Best Review  

  • 2nd Place: PantherNOW – Natalie La Roche, FIU Theater’s Blazing Production of “Fahrenheit 451”  

Best Front-Page Design  

  •  2nd Place: PantherNOW – Staff, Front Page September 2021  

Best Video  

  • 2nd Place: PantherNOW – Valentina Palm, Hundreds of Maskless Students Crowd Greek Life Party  

Best COVID-19 Coverage  

  • 2nd Place: SFMN – Elizabeth Garcia & Helen Acevedo, South Florida immigrants struggle to access COVID-19 vaccine 

Best News Story 

  • 3rd Place: SFMN – Valentina Palm, Miami Beach’s Dirty Little Secret 

Best Sports Photo  

  • 3rd Place: PantherNOW – Liam Rooney, The FIU Men’s Soccer team celebrates 

Best Inside Page Design  

  • 3rd Place: PantherNOW – Diego Diaz & Michael McEwen, COVID-19 in the Americas  

Best Coverage of LGBT Issues  

  • 3rd Place: PantherNOW – Jesse Fraga, Transgender Military Ban Repeal Saved an FIU Student’s Dreams 

“The SPJ Awards reflect the excellence of our faculty and students, their hard work and their dedication to the craft of journalism,” said Dr. Susan Jacobson, Interim Chair for the Department of Journalism + Media, “We are very proud of all of our students and of our program.” 

Well done to all students.  

Search this website