Lauren Rochester, Awards Coordinator, (317) 927-8000, ext. 210, firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Department, (317) 927-8000, ext. 211, email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to honor Breanne Coats with the 2008 Julie Galvan Outstanding Graduate in Journalism Award.
A 2008 graduate of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., Coats has a made a significant mark on journalism at her university and the state of Washington as a whole.
At PLU, Coats began working at the university’s newspaper, the Mast, during her freshman year as a contributing writer. She then moved up to sports co-editor and later editor-in-chief during her junior year. It was during her term as editor-in-chief that Coats became a journalism icon at Pacific Lutheran.
As a strong advocate of the First Amendment, Coats refused to keep quiet when the university’s administration informed her that the newspaper could not run a certain tavern advertisement. What resulted was a yearlong struggle between Coats and the administration concerning the university’s authority to censor such advertisements. Her work to protect students’ freedom of expression earned Coats national recognition by the Society. She was awarded the Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award, another SPJ annual award, in 2007.
“I can’t recall a time when PLU had such a worthy candidate for the Julie Galvan Outstanding Graduate in Journalism Award,” Coats’ past adviser Joanne Lisosky wrote in her nomination letter. “Breanne Coats is the consummate PLU journalist who has represented SPJ locally, regionally and nationally.”
Coats was also a very active member in the university’s student chapter of SPJ, helping it reach regional fame as student chapter of the region in 2006 and national fame as student chapter of the nation in 2007. She continues to serve as a post-grad member of the Society and is currently serving as the 2008 Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern at SPJ’s national headquarters in Indianapolis.
“I am honored and humbled to have won such a prestigious award, especially since it is named after Julie Galvan,” Coats said. “I had such an amazing college journalism experience thanks to my PLU professors, and this award is proof of how good they are in bringing out the best in their students.”
The Award is named in memory of Julie Galvan, a former president of the SPJ San Jose State University Campus Chapter, who was killed in a car accident while on her way to an internship in 1996. At the close of the college year, each campus chapter of SPJ selects one graduate in journalism who is outstanding in his or her class on the basis of character, community service, scholarship, proficiency in practical journalism and significant contributions to their SPJ chapter. From this group, the Society’s leadership selects one graduate who is considered most outstanding for national recognition.
Coats will be recognized Friday, Sept. 5 at a luncheon to be hosted at the 2008 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Atlanta at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. To learn more about the event, visit www.spj.org/convention.asp.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.