Vanderbilt Hustler editorial board smiles with pride, as photographed on Nov. 6, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Noah Srulovitz)
Vanderbilt Hustler editorial board smiles with pride, as photographed on Nov. 6, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Noah Srulovitz)
Noah Srulovitz

The Hustler wins 17 national, 9 regional awards this fall

Overall, The Hustler won nine first-place awards and tied with Daily News of Ball State University for the most first-place Pinnacle awards earned by one newspaper (6).

The Hustler took home 17 national awards this month, winning eight College Media Association Pinnacle Awards, seven Associated Collegiate Press Pacemakers Awards and two Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards. The Hustler also won nine regional Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards.

All three organizations recognize top student media organizations and individual journalism work in their awards. The Hustler competes regionally as part of SPJ’s Region 12 which comprises of student media outlets in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. 

Overall, The Hustler won nine first-place awards and tied with Daily News of Ball State University for the most first-place Pinnacle awards earned by one newspaper (6). One of these awards was for Best Online Sports Section, besting other top public school news outlets. CMA awards student newspapers this award based on the quality of their coverage of sports news.

Former Sports Editor Justin Hershey (’22) won first place in CMA’s Best Sports Columnist category for his 2021 Week 13 Commodore Brunch, column about Vanderbilt men’s basketball’s trip to the NIT in 2022 and editorial about Vanderbilt’s COVID-19 policies for basketball games during the 2021-22 school year. In the latter piece, Hershey criticized the university for selling student section tickets to outside fans while barring students from attending the games. Hershey also was a finalist for the SPJ’s Region 12 Best Sports Column for his Commodore Brunch column.

The Hustler Sports Section also won first place for CMA’s Best Audio Sportscast for The Vanderbilt Hustler Sports 30 podcast on Sept. 9, 2021, with athletic director Candice Storey Lee. It covered the 2021-22 Vanderbilt football season, athlete name and image rights, additions to the SEC and more. The podcast was hosted by Hershey and current Sports Editor Bryce Smith; it featured current Sports Copy Editor Sam Curtis.

Also in Sports, former Staff Writer Jaime Pérez (’22) was a finalist for SPJ’s Region 12 Sports Writing (large) category for his article about how a baseball research analyst for the Cincinnati Reds worked with the Vandy Boys to use data to improve their performance. Under ACP’s Multimedia Sports Story category, The Hustler received an honorable mention for a Jan. 28, 2022, article about the three plays that doomed Vanderbilt men’s basketball against South Carolina, which was written by Hershey and photographed by former Multimedia Sports Specialist Truman McDaniel. Former Deputy Multimedia Director Mattigan Kelly (’22) was named a finalist in SPJ’s Region 12 Sports Photography category. 

Editor-in-Chief Rachael Perrotta won three awards individually: first place for CMA’s Best Multimedia Breaking News Story, second place for CMA’s Best Investigative Story and honorable mention for ACP’s Best Multimedia News Story. Perrotta’s first-place award is for an article that uncovered unreleased admissions statistics for Vanderbilt’s Class of 2026’s early decision I pool and featured reactions from now-first-year students at Vanderbilt. This article also received the ACP honorable mention. In the Best Investigative Story category, Perrotta investigated USDA violations that VUMC received for animal mistreatment and detailed its violation history.

Perrotta also won third place for ACP’s Best Diversity, Equity and Inclusion coverage alongside Magazine Editor Charlotte Mauger, Senior Staff Writer Mae Monette and Staff Writer Ekta Anand. For this category, ACP joined the University of Minnesota’s Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication to select stories that cover topics such as “race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and other differences.” The main story in the Hustler’s winning package detailed allegations of racism and antisemitism surrounding Vanderbilt Chabad’s Rudy Rochman speaker event by Perrotta, Magazine Editor Charlotte Mauger, Senior Staffer Mae Monette and Staff Writer Ekta Anand.

Monette and Anand’s follow-up to the Chabad event piece was submitted as a supporting story for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion category. Managing Editor Katherine Oung wrote the remaining two supporting stories, one of which detailed Vanderbilt’s inclusivity efforts. In the other piece, they reported on racist statements written in Central Library and Vanderbilt’s Divinity School. Graphics Director Alexa White won first place in CMA’s Best Photo Illustration category for her cover graphic in the article “KUMAR: Why I don’t believe in diversity and inclusion,” which depicted a banner posted outside of Rand Dining Hall in April 2022 following the Chabad event. White also was an SPJ Region 12 Finalist in Editorial Writing.  

Perrotta and Mauger additionally were named the SPJ Region 12 Finalist in Breaking News Reporting for their article about a Dores Divest protest interrupting the 2021-22 Founder’s Walk ceremony. The pair highlighted Dores Divest’s intentions behind the protest and got first-years’ thoughts on this demonstration.

College Voices Podcast Producer Abhinav Krishnan, Staff Podcaster Brynn Jones and former Staff Podcasters Trent Griffith and Nandika Chirala similarly produced a podcast episode on the fossil fuel divestment movement at Vanderbilt. This episode won the SPJ Region 12 Podcast competition and was named a SPJ national finalist in this category, as well as winning second place in ACP’s Podcast category and third place in CMA’s Best Podcast category.

Oung, Mauger and Anand also collectively won first place in CMA’s Best Breaking News Coverage Package. Their articles on students being unable to access rapid COVID-19 tests, students being sent to the Hayes Street Hotel to quarantine and Vanderbilt reinstalling outdoor recreation and dining tents were all published within 72 hours of each other.

The 2021-22 Hustler Editorial Board received an honorable mention in the ACP Editorial category for its staff editorial concerning a lack of transparency from the Vanderbilt administration about COVID-19 policies during the 2021-22 school year. Former Editorial Director Debbie Wang also wrote a winning column and awarded third place in the ACP Column category for her Sept. 12, 2021, op-ed titled “WANG: What’s in a name?” The piece detailed her experience with Americans mispronouncing or forgetting her Chinese name, Xuanshuang, and asks readers to “listen first and truly practice the pronunciations later.”

Deputy Magazine Editor Samuel Hyland won first place in ACP’s Blog category for his piece titled “The day the vending machines turned against me.” In this article, Hyland detailed his quest to find Grandma’s Cookies in a vending machine on Commons late at night and the various mishaps he encountered while doing so. Hyland also was named a Region 12 Finalist in Art/Fashion Journalism from SPJ for his article on Vanderbilt student Kyle Serota, a DJ who opened for Steve Aoki under the moniker GoldenGate.

Former Social Media Director Emery Little was named a Region 12 winner and a finalist in SPJ’s Data Visualization category for two separate infographics; the winning graphic was also named an SPJ national finalist in the same category. Little was a finalist for her graph in Perrotta’s opinion piece on the elimination of the SAT subject tests and won the category for her chart in former Staff Writer Ryder Li’s article on VSG’s push for optional pass/fail grading during the pandemic.

 

See the full list of awards below:

CMA Pinnacles

Best Online Sports Section First Place: The Vanderbilt Hustler

Best Sports Columnist — First Place: HERSHEY: University athletics attendance policy alienates students, its most important fans,” “Commodore Brunch Week 13: LEArning” and “Memorial Minutes: An NIT run that was desperately needed” by Justin Hershey 

Best Breaking News Coverage (package) — First Place: Students report being unable to obtain rapid COVID-19 tests” by Katherine Oung, BREAKING: Nine students awaiting COVID-19 test results sent to Hayes Street Hotel to quarantine by Charlotte Mauger and Vanderbilt reinstalls outdoor tents for dining and gathering by Ekta Anand 

Best Multimedia Breaking News Story First Place: ‘Pure joy’: 24.1% of early decision I applicants admitted to Class of 2026” by Rachael Perrotta

Best Audio Sportscast — First Place: Candice Lee joins the Hustler Sports 30” by Justin Hershey, Bryce Smith and Sam Curtis

Best Photo Illustration — First Place: feature photo in KUMAR: Why I don’t believe in diversity and inclusion” by Alexa White

Best Investigative Story — Second Place: “‘Critical’ violation and official warning issued to VUMC regarding guinea pig mistreatment” by Rachael Perrotta

Best Podcast — Third Place:Diermeier and the giant unicorn: Understanding fossil fuel divestment” by Abhinav Krishnan, Brynn Jones, Trent Griffith and Nandika Chirala 

 

ACP Pacemakers

Blog — First Place: “The day the vending machines turned against me” by Samuel Hyland 

Podcast — Second Place: Diermeier and the giant unicorn: Understanding fossil fuel divestment” by Abhinav Krishnan, Brynn Jones, Trent Griffith and Nandika Chirala

Column — Third Place: WANG: What’s in a name?” by Debbie Wang 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Story Package — Third Place: Chabad’s Rudy Rochman speaker event sparks allegations of racism, claims of antisemitism ensue” (main story) by Rachael Perrotta, Charlotte Mauger, Mae Monette and Ekta Anand; A more inclusive Vanderbilt: What has changed and what still needs to be done” by Katherine Oung, University investigates racist statements written in Central Library, Divinity School” by Katherine Oung and “‘Hold white students accountable for their racism’: Banner in response to Chabad event taken down, replaced” by Mae Monette and Ekta Anand (supporting stories) 

Multimedia News Story — Honorable Mention (4/5): ‘Pure joy’: 24.1% of early decision I applicants admitted to Class of 2026” by Rachael Perrotta 

Multimedia Sports Story Honorable Mention (5/5): The Three Plays that Doomed Vanderbilt Against South Carolina” by Justin Hershey and Truman McDaniel

Editorial Honorable Mention (5/5): STAFF EDITORIAL: Masked up; Let down” by 2021-22 Editorial Board

 

SPJ Mark of Excellence:

PodcastsRegion 12 Winner; National Finalist: Diermeier and the giant unicorn: Understanding fossil fuel divestment” by Abhinav Krishnan, Brynn Jones, Trent Griffith and Nandika Chirala

Data Visualization Region 12 Winner, National Finalist: VSG pass/fail infographic in “VSG push for optional pass/fail grading meets resistance from administration” by Emery Little

Data Visualization Region 12 Finalist: SAT by the Numbers graphic in PERROTTA: College Board isn’t on students’ side” by Emery Little

Region 12 Breaking News Reporting Region 12 Finalist: Founder’s Walk interrupted by Dores Divest demonstration” by Rachael Perrotta, Charlotte Mauger 

Region 12 Art/Fashion Journalism Region 12 Finalist: “A few years ago, GoldenGate was writing fan mail to Steve Aoki—now, he’s opening for him” by Samuel Hyland

Region 12 Sports Writing (Large)Region 12 Finalist: “How advanced analytics are fueling the VandyBoys behind the scenes” by Jaime Pérez

Region 12 Sports Column WritingRegion 12 Finalist: Commodore Brunch, Justin Hershey

Region 12 Sports Photography Region 12 Finalist: Mattigan Kelly

Region 12 Editorial WritingRegion 12 Finalist: Alexa White

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About the Contributors
Zach Joseph
Zach Joseph, Senior Staff Writer
Zach Joseph ('25) is from Chicago, Ill., and is majoring in law, history and society with a minor in Spanish in the College of Arts and Science. He previously served as a staff writer for the News section. Outside of writing for The Hustler, you can find him going for a run around campus or passionately watching soccer games. You can contact him at [email protected].
Noah Srulovitz
Noah Srulovitz, Former Staff Photographer
Noah Srulovitz ('24) is a student in Peabody College studying human and organizational development and anthropology with a minor in business. When he's not explaining how Deerfield, Ill., is "technically" part of the Chicago area, you can find him watching movies, listening to music or looking at pictures of his dog. You can reach him at [email protected].
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