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Kentucky Kernel takes home 17 awards after Southeast Journalism Conference

The Kentucky Kernel staff poses with its awards from the South East Journalism Conference on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at Troy University in Troy, Alabama.

The Kentucky Kernel attended its first Southeast Journalism Conference (SEJC) in Troy, Alabama, from Feb. 23 through Feb. 25, taking home 17 awards.

The event featured award ceremonies, keynote speakers, in-person sessions and on-site competitions, all of which tested the knowledge of multimedia journalism for participating students in a timely manner.

Kernel Editor-in-Chief Hannah Stanley said the on-site competitions were a great opportunity to see where the staff is with their skills but also humbling when working on a one- to two-hour deadline to create and publish a story, photo gallery or multimedia element.  

“I’m very happy with how well we did in those specific categories and think that there’s still room for improvement, but we are on the right track,” Stanley said.

Ryan Craig, student media advisor for the University of Kentucky, said SEJC appealed to him because the Kernel has never participated in anything like this before.

“The true thing that we learned from it is that it’s much more difficult on a deadline,” Craig said.

Craig said SEJC is a great experience for students to practice deadline assignments and give them an ounce of real-world journalism experience, but he wants to push students even more with deadlines since the Kernel has become a multimedia platform.

“You can win most of the awards, you can be as good as you possibly can be, but if you don’t have anything to improve on then you’re probably not looking to improve,” he said. 

On Feb. 24, SEJC hosted an award ceremony based on submitted work from a given SEJC deadline, proving to be the most successful night for both the Kernel and KRNL Lifestyle + Fashion.

Across 22 SEC schools and 27 different award categories, Kernel media won 15 first-place awards, one third-place award and one fifth-place award. For the on-site competitions, the Kernel won one first-place award and five second-place awards.

“I think we went into this competition in the mindset of one not wanting to be there because it wasn’t the most appealing,” Stanley said. “I think we walked out of it a lot more appreciative to have different feedback and categories that aren’t just our normal ones which we compete in every single year.”

Bryce McNeil, student media coordinator for Kernel media and SEJC treasurer since 2017, complemented the Kernel’s success in their first attendance at the conference. 

“The Kernel did exceedingly well in the best of the South competition … exceedingly well.  I lost count of the first-place awards, it was extremely exciting,” McNeil said.

McNeil said he heard praise from other professors and advisors at the event, leaving some just as impressed as McNeil by the awards won.

“I am so proud as an advisor to the Kernel that I can’t quite articulate it in a pithy manner but happy and proud,” McNeil said.

List of Kentucky Kernel SEJC award winners:

Best Public Service Journalism 

1st place: Staff

Best Newspaper 

1st place: Staff

Best Audio Program 

1st place: Staff 

Best Website 

3rd place: Staff

Best News Writer

1st place: Rayleigh Deaton 

Best Special Event Reporter or Editor 

1st place: Hannah Stanley

Best Photographer 

1st place: Abbey Cutrer

Best Newspaper Designer 

1st place: Ahkila Nadimpalli

Best TV Feature Reporter 

1st place: Bryce Towle

Best Multimedia Journalist 

1st place: Grant Grubbs 

Journalist of the Year 

1st place: Rayleigh Deaton 

Best Arts & Entertainment Writer 

5th place: Gray Greenwell


List of SEJC on-site competition award winners:

Arts & Entertainment Photography 

1st place: Abbey Cutrer 

Arts & Entertainment Radio 

2nd place: Giana Gallo 

Feature Television 

2nd place: Bryce Towle

Feature Writing

2nd place: Rana Alsoufi

News Photography

2nd place: Matthew Mueller 

News Radio 

2nd place: Giana Gallo 


List of KRNL Lifestyle + Fashion SEJC award winners:

Best Magazine Writer

1st place: Emma Reilly

Best Magazine

1st place: Staff

Best Magazine Designer 

1st place: Hunter Grace Hayes

Best Advertising Staff Member

1st place: Bree Cox

Best Feature Writer 

1st place: Rana Alsoufi

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Giana Gallo, Assistant Broadcast/Podcast manager

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