The Society of Professional Journalists cited New Mexico News Port for three awards in its regional Mark of Excellence award contest, which honors the best of college journalism.

News Port was the first place winner in Online News Reporting, for its series “Curious New Mexico.” News Port was also named a finalist for Online In Depth Reporting, and for Best Digital-Only Student Publication.

The first place award honored a series of reports where News Port journalists let audience members ask questions that the students investigated. The Curious New Mexico project features stories ranging from the origin of Albuquerque’s water, the history of Albuquerque’s name, to the contributions of undocumented immigrants to New Mexico’s economy.

The Mark of Excellence awards were presented at the regional SPJ conference held in Albuquerque, April 15-16, 2016. The contest involves student journalists from New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Winners automatically go on to compete nationally. National Mark of Excellence awards will be announced at SPJ’s national conference in New Orleans in September.

The News Port’s first place entry exhibited four pieces by 12 students:

Sophie Wickert – Where we get our water
Kyle Herrera, Travis Gonzales, Joseph Buck, Brian DeGruchy, Christian Naranjo- How Albuquerque got its name
John Acosta – Economic contributions of undocumented immigrants
Travis Gonzales, Emily Ediger, Veronica Munoz, Brianna Gallegos, Isabel Gonzales – Meet the Team

To become a finalist in the Online In Depth Reporting category, News Port submitted a batch of reports in its Creative New Mexico series, covering the local start-up economy. The entry featured the work of 4 students:

Kayla Root – Innovate ABQ
Ryan Kampmeier – Gaming Guild
Toma Moya and Boseok Park – Funding Dating Games

“I am excited to see the Society of Professional Journalists recognize the stories, videos and photos that our UNM students produced as part of our Curious New Mexico and Creative New Mexico projects,” said News Port editor Kate Nash Cunningham. “This type of real-world publishing is so important to our journalism students as they embark on their reporting careers.”

“These awards demonstrate the quality of our students who are publishing timely, important stories for the people of New Mexico,” said Michael Marcotte, a UNM journalism professor who helped launch News Port in 2014. “Congratulations to all the students who have contributed to this success.”

The New Mexico News Port is a digital media and collaboration lab based in the Communications and Journalism Department at The University of New Mexico. Students in journalism courses publish multimedia stories while working with local partners including KUNM, KNME, the Daily Lobo and New Mexico In Depth.

To date, the two-year old grant funded News Port has published 221 stories from 98 students and has won other regional and national awards for its reporting, including being named a national Grand Prize Winner by the Online News Association in 2015.