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May 1, 2020

The most difficult circumstances sometimes produce the greatest opportunities. This is certainly true for those in the field of journalism. Amanda Siew, a professional media student in the Department of Mass Communication and a native of Malaysia, exemplified this when she found that her return home over break required two-week isolation in a hotel. She turned the experience into a twitter thread and video package that so impressed the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) that she was honored with a 2020 College Coronavirus Coverage Award, or CCC Award.

The national awards were created by the SPJ to recognize the efforts of student journalists to keep their campus communities informed during the Covid-19 crisis.

A screenshot of Amanda Siew sitting in her hotel room in quarantine

A still image from Amanda’s video package about her experience in quarantine in Malaysia.

“Very enterprising to turn this stressful experience into a first-person news story so that viewers and readers can feel what it’s like to go through a government-mandated quarantine,” judges said of Amanda’s reporting. “Working in isolation, she had to write, edit, and shoot the video, which offered an inside view into her hotel room and her confined daily life for almost two weeks. The innovative and effective use of the Twitter thread to document each step of the quarantine process made this a unique and memorable package.”

Dr. Mary Carver, chair of the Department of Mass Communication, praised Amanda’s dedication and the department’s instructors.

“I recognize that during the past month good news has sometimes taken a back seat to the crisis at hand,” Dr. Carver said. “Amanda continued to report her experience, which you may have followed as it appeared in Centralities the past month. As a result, she, and thus the department and UCO, has won national recognition.”

Dr. Desiree Hill, a professor in the department’s Professional Media program, pointed out that the award is particularly praiseworthy because students from programs across the nation competed for this recognition.

“She won alongside students from Yale University and Northwestern University,” Dr. Hill said.

Amanda’s video project can be viewed on Facebook and the thread of her experience can be seen on Twitter.