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Highland Cavalier editor awarded SPJ National Mark of Excellence

Jordan FiferThe editor-in-chief of The University of Virginia's College at Wise student newspaper, The Highland Cavalier, was awarded first place for breaking news reporting in a national journalism contest for a 2012 news story about the sudden death of the College’s seventh chancellor.

Jordan Fifer’s breaking news reporting won first place in the Society of Professional Journalists’ National Mark of Excellence competition this week. The story had previously won first place for breaking news reporting in SPJ's Region 2, which includes Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The Mark of Excellence Awards honor the best collegiate journalism in the U.S. and are judged by professionals with at least three years of journalism experience. Fifer’s winning entry competed among category winners from the 12 SPJ regions.

According to the SPJ: "Judges were directed to choose only those entries which they felt were outstanding work worthy of a national honor. If the judges determined that none of the entries rose to the level of excellence, no award was given. This year student journalists submitted more than 4,600 entries."

Fifer's Feb. 3, 2012 Highland Cavalier story “Wise mourns Prior’s death” was a breaking news article written in less than a day after Chancellor David Prior died unexpectedly early on a Thursday morning. The Highland Cavalier, then a weekly newspaper, was due to be published the next morning, and Fifer worked to ensure the story made it to print despite minimal time before the paper's deadline.

The entry will be recognized at SPJ's Excellence in Journalism 2013 (EIJ13) conference in Southern California, Aug. 24 to 26.

Fifer, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, is the outgoing editor-in-chief of The Highland Cavalier. His reporting and photography have appeared in The Roanoke Times, The Virginian-Pilot, The Bristol Herald - Courier, The Coalfield Progress and other publications. His work has won several regional, state and national awards for newspaper writing, photography and videography.