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(Photo credit: Vern Williams) -- Students in the Multimedia Journalism class in spring 2018 included: Front row, left to right: Jonathan Gonzalez, August Pelliccio, Megan Hill, Melanie Espinal, Kaitlyn Regan. Back row, left to right: Patrick Quinn O’Neill, Michael Riccio, Ryan Conchado, Kevin Crompton, Andrew Hans and Associate Professor Jodie Gil.

A project reported by a group of 12 journalism students earned a First Place award in the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists’ Excellence in Journalism Awards on May 23 at the state awards banquet held at The Hawthorne in Berlin.

The award was given in the Health category of the competition for the students’ group project: “Costs and access still barriers to health care, survey finds,” produced for the Connecticut Health I-Team, under the direction of Professor Jodie Gil. These students were in spring 2018 Multimedia Journalism course.

In Regional A division, the project was awarded the highest honor above all the major news outlets in the state.

The student winners are: Kaitlyn Regan, Ryan Conchado, Kevin Crompton, Jailene Cuevas, Melanie Espinal, Jonathan Gonzalez, Andrew Hans, Megan Hill, Patrick Quinn O’Neill, August Pelliccio, Michael Riccio, and Alyssa Rice. Hill, a student from Liverpool John Moores University, Southern’s partner university in Liverpool, England, was studying at Southern for the spring semester.

“This project was a collaboration between the students in the Multimedia Journalism course and the Connecticut Health Investigative Team,” says Gil. “We were fortunate to work with Lynne DeLucia, the editor of C-HIT, throughout the Spring 2018 semester.”

Gil explains that the project let the students explore new tools for journalism in a real-world setting – writing about Connecticut residents’ experiences with healthcare and insurance. Students produced videos and podcasts, and took photos of the people they interviewed. They explored data from 500 surveys, and used their interviewing skills to put those numbers into context.

Not only did students put their journalism education to work in the field, they got a chance to learn from DeLucia, a Pulitzer-Prize journalist with more than 40 years’ experience in Connecticut journalism, during classroom sessions.

“I’m really proud of the students’ work, and appreciative of Lynne’s guidance as editor on the project,” Gil says. “It was a team effort, and I’m so honored that the judges selected this as the first place winner in a competitive category.”

A selection of photos from the dozens of Connecticut residents students interviewed.