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PLU grad receives national journalism award

September 1, 2008

PLU grad receives national journalism award

The Society of Professional Journalists honored PLU graduate Breanne Coats ’08 with the 2008 Julie Galvan Outstanding Graduate in Journalism Award. The national award recognizes one graduate who is considered the most outstanding on the basis of character, community service, scholarship, proficiency in practical journalism and significant contributions to their SPJ chapter. Coats was nominated for the award by PLU’s SPJ campus chapter.

“I can’t recall a time when PLU had such a worthy candidate for the Julie Galvan Outstanding Graduate in Journalism Award,” wrote Coats’ past adviser Joanne Lisosky in her nomination letter. “Breanne Coats is the consummate PLU journalist who has represented SPJ locally, regionally and nationally.”

In her time at PLU, Coats made a significant mark on journalism at the university and in the state of Washington. She worked for the student newspaper the Mast as a contributing writer, sports co-editor and editor-in-chief, and she was an active member of the student chapter of SPJ.

During her junior year, while serving as editor-in-chief, PLU’s administration asked the Mast to remove an advertisement for a local pub due to its promotion of alcohol. A strong advocate of the First Amendment, Coats claimed the move was censorship. What resulted was a yearlong struggle between the two sides, with media students and SPJ members staging protests, editorializing their concerns and submitting resolutions to ASPLU.

As a member of PLU’s student chapter of SPJ, Coats helped 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.

“I am honored and humbled to have won such a prestigious award,” 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.”

She credits her communication professors with giving students the chance to explore and work in all forms of journalism, from newspapers to radio and television. “Not all schools provide opportunities for all three,” she said.

Her time at PLU prepared her to excel at her current position: the 2008 Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern at SPJ’s national headquarters in Indianapolis. There, she learned about freedom of information issues facing journalists today, interviewed powerful people in the industry and wrote for SPJ’s member magazine on the topic.

“It was a really good opportunity to write about something that has two components I like: journalism and law,” she said. Coats is headed back to western Washington to this fall to look for a job in communications, preferably in journalism.

The Julie Galvan Outstanding Graduate in Journalism 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.