UB Spectrum editors win big in Society of Professional Journalists' Mark of Excellence regional competition


The Society of Professional Journalists (SJP) recognized three Spectrum editors on Monday for awards in SPJ’s Mark of Excellence regional competition.

Former managing editor Lisa Khoury won the in-depth reporting category for her investigative reporting on illegal fraternities in the University Heights. Her story ‘Animal Heights’ will compete at the national level. Current staff members Sara DiNatale and Emma Janicki were finalists for breaking news and general reporting, respectively.

Khoury wrote the ‘Animal Heights’ article in seven months after discovering five illegal fraternities at UB. Her article focused on the hazing rituals, underage drinking and selling of illicit drugs by these fraternities. USA Today College and The Huffington Post have each picked up the article since its publication.

Khoury described the article as “the hardest story” she has ever written. She said there were many times throughout the course of her investigation when she felt the story would not come together, but is glad she kept pushing because “it’s really rewarding when you can shine even a small light on an issue that is negatively affecting students.”

“This will be the second time Khoury’s work will compete at the national SPJ level. That's incredible," DiNatale said. "One of my favorite Spectrum memories is staying up late with her on the last 2013-14 production night, line editing and fact checking ‘Animal Heights.’”

Khoury considers the award announcement to be “a great honor.”

“It’s one of the most prestigious awards you can win at a university level the fact that I was even recognized was a huge honor,” Khoury said.

The Spectrum’s current editor in chief Sara DiNatale was named a finalist for her article, “Law School Dean Makau Mutua resigns” in the breaking news category. DiNatale, a senior English major, wrote the article in 24 hours after former UB law school Dean Makau Mutua resigned amid allegations of lying under oath.

“It's such a great honor for The Spectrum to continuously place in this regional competition,” DiNatale said.

The Spectrum’s current assistant managing editor Emma Janicki was also named a finalist for her article, “Publishing textbooks can mean big money for professors” in the general news reporting category. Janicki, a senior English major, wrote the article after finding that UB has yet to establish an official policy on the selling of textbooks by professors.

“Writing the article really made me flex my journalism muscles in new ways and learn how to synthesize so many different parts of the story into a coherent, interesting article,” Janicki said. “For such a small journalism program, we are a team of misfits out in the world of some of these schools and the money their program wields, but we still win. All of us produce strong content and I hope more of us here and The Spectrum will be nationally recognized for our work.”

Ashley Inkumsah is the news editor and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com