Civic Project story wins another Keystone Award

Cody J. Benjamin, IUP junior Journalism major. Photo by David Loomis.

Cody J. Benjamin, IUP junior Journalism major. Photo by David Loomis.

By The HawkEye staff

The HawkEye online newspaper  has notched another award for its reporting, the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association  announced late last month.

Journalism student Cody J. Benjamin, a junior from Lititz, Pa., won honorable mention for sports reporting. His Dec. 18 story reported favoritism, financial contributions and family connections in IUP’s NCAA Division II  football program.

Benjamin contacted more than 40 sources for the story, including nearly two dozen current and former players, seven university administrators, four coaches and seven other sources, to verify allegations made by the program’s players.

Readership statistics show that the story is the most-read in The HawkEye’s history.

Benjamin said he was honored.

“I’m sincerely grateful to have my work even considered for an award,” he said in a March 3 email. “I know I can still improve, but this was an encouraging stepping stone and an invaluable learning experience.”

IUP Journalism professor David Loomis, editor of The HawkEye, praised the work of Benjamin, sports editor of  The Penn, the campus’ student newspaper.

“Cody’s story and its half-dozen sidebars reflect some of the most thorough reporting The HawkEye ever has published,” Loomis said. “His work is a model of professional-grade sports journalism, it’s a first-rate example of investigative public-service reporting, and readers clearly responded to it.”

Loomis added that Benjamin’s competition for the annual statewide journalism awards included the state’s top schools, such as Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State.

Benjamin’s story was published as part of The Civic Project, a decade-long, community-focused, watchdog-journalism initiative rooted in News Reporting classes taught by Loomis.

The latest award continues a string of honors that have flowed from the statewide press association to the digital online newspaper and the IUP journalism program. Six times student investigative stories published by The HawkEye have been submitted to the Keystone Awards competition. Six times they have won awards.

Two earlier Keystone awards were won for Civic Project stories published in print news media before Loomis created the digital newspaper in 2008.

A banquet to honor Benjamin and other 2015 winners is scheduled for the Student Keystone Press Awards Luncheon on April 1, 2015, at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.  For more information, contact Dr. Loomis at doloomis@iup.edu or call the Journalism Department at 724-357-4411.

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