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Nine 'Western Courier' (WC) editors attended a Society of Professional Journalists Bootcamp for College Journalists in St. Louis last weekend, and WC editors took home four of five awards given at the event. From L to R, back row: Sandra Sepaniak, first place (senior, journalism/Spanish, Geneso, IL); Steve Lutz (senior, journalism, Bourbonnais, IL); Jay Jacobs (sophomore, broadcasting, Harvard, IL); Garrick Hodge, honorable mention (junior, broadcasting, Winthrop Harbor, IL); Charles Schmidt (junior, journalism, Crystal Lake, IL); Aaron Viner, honorable mention (junior, broadcasting, Eldrige, IL). Front row, Elana Katz, third place (junior, fashion merchandising, Anaheim, CA); Brittany Petrillo (senior, English, Elmwood Park, IL); and Mary Friday (junior, communication, Macomb, IL).
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'Western Courier' Staff Sweeps Awards at SPJ Writing Contest

September 27, 2013

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MACOMB, IL — Earlier this month, four Western Illinois University students who work at "The Western Courier," WIU's student-run newspaper, took home four of five awards given at a Society of Professional Journalists' Bootcamp for College Journalists in St. Louis, MO.

According to Rich Moreno, director of student publications and journalism instructor, in addition to offering journalism workshops and speakers, the bootcamp included a writing contest during which the students participated in a mock press conference about a fictional crime.

"For the contest, the students had to ask the press conference speaker questions, and then had about an hour to write a story based on the information provided to them. The speaker at the mock press conference was Major Tom Coppotelli of the Collinsville (IL) Police Department," Moreno said. "At the end of the Bootcamp, awards were given out for the three best stories and any honorable mentions."

"Western Courier" (WC) staff members who won awards included:

  • Sandra Sepaniak (senior, journalism/Spanish, Geneso, IL), "Edge" section editor, first place;
  • Elana Katz (junior, fashion merchandising, Anaheim, CA), WC editor-in-chief, third place;
  • Garrick Hodge (junior, broadcasting, Winthrop Harbor, IL), WC managing editor, honorable mention; and
  • Aaron Viner (junior, broadcasting, Eldrige, IL), WC sports editor, honorable mention.

For more information, contact Moreno at (309) 298-1876 or via email at

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