Dallas sports editor is SPJ Rookie of the Year

She’s Rookie of the Year!

Nicole Watkins, sports editor at the Polk County Itemizer-Observer, was presented the 2013 Rookie of the Year award by the Oregon/Southwest Washington Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) during a May 18 banquet in Portland.

This is one of the two most prestigious individual awards that the regional SPJ chapter hands out annually. The award is presented to a journalist who, during 2012, completed their first full year of fulltime employment in the profession. Judging criteria includes contributions the journalist made to the profession during the year.

Nicole has been the I-O’s sports editor since December 2011.

The Itemizer-Observer also received four awards for the six entries it submitted in the regional SPJ non-daily publication contest. Competing in the under 8,000 circulation publication division, the I-O placed second in overall General Excellence. This marks the third time in the past four years the newspaper has received either first place or second place General Excellence recognition from the organization.

Watkins also placed first in Best Sports News for her story “Doing More With Less: Is WOU’s athletic department fighting an uphill battle based on funding?” and second for Best Column Writing.  And former I-O reporter Craig Coleman received second place for Best Business Feature Writing for his story on LongBoard-Larry titled “Cruisin’: Independence longboard maker rides wave of growth.”