The social media coverage of the School of Media and Communication’s Study Away program in South Africa has won a prestigious 2013 EPPY Award from Editor & Publisher Magazine. Since 1996, this honor has been awarded to the best professional and collegiate journalism websites.
The student work, guided by faculty directors Karen M. Turner and Linn Washington, both of the Journalism Department, won for “Best Use of Social Media for News Services with under 1 million unique monthly visitors.” The win came in a professional category, not one limited to college media.
Turner describes the social media content the students created this summer during the SMC Study Away program as “dynamic” and “compelling.” They populated Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo and Facebook with content, bringing everything together through Tumblr.
“Over a five week period, the students were exposed to all aspects of Johannesburg and the surrounding area,” Turner says. “The students took this knowledge and their curiosity and with our feedback created insightful stories, that I’m sure they’re proud of.”
Neil Ortiz, manager of the Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab, which houses PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com, says the students’ photography helped to take the project to the next level. “Much of Tumblr’s success has been attributed to user-based image sharing,” he says.
The other SMC nominees were:
- Best College/University Journalism Website – PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com
- Best College/University Newspaper Website – The Temple News
- Best Sports Video with under 1 million unique monthly visitors – PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com: Rise of the Tigers
- Best Community Service on a Media-Affiliated Website with under 1 million unique monthly visitors – PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com: Philadelphia School Closings: A Special Report
- Best Community Service on a Media-Affiliated Website with under 1 million unique monthly visitors – PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com: Rise of the Tigers
This marked the first year that Temple has entered the professional competition. Previously, PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com was a finalist in 2011 for best college journalism website and won the category in 2012.
While the other entries came away without a win, earning a nomination is a great feat for the students and faculty members involved.
Chris Harper, co-director of PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com and professor of journalism, said the website’s focus on underserved and undercovered neighborhoods in the city has led to nearly 50 awards on the local, state, regional and national levels.
He’s proud of the projects that were nominated this year — the school closings piece that revealed a financial and social burden on many communities and “Rise of the Tigers,” a documentary of the Kensington football team that showcases the tenacity of people in one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods.