The 18-year-old Airica Zayas, better known as Airica Demia, making her debut for the Columbia-based Palmetto Championship Wrestling. (Photo by Raymond Escoto)

Seven students from The Carolina News and Reporter won top honors in a recent statewide contest for scholastic journalism.

The multi-media journalists at USC’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications took three first-place awards for video, arts and entertainment writing and news photography in the South Carolina Press Association contest.

The contest compared the students’ 2023 work to that of students from schools around the state.

Win Hammond captured first place for video work. He flew a drone over the more than 800 acres of land along the Congaree River bought recently by the University of South Carolina. The narrated video shows the topography – and the potential challenges – of building on the huge swath of riverfront land.

“Excellent drone footage and commentary,” the judge wrote.

Raymond Escoto won first place in arts and entertainment writing for a story on a female professional wrestler who’s still in high school.

This is “both arts and entertainment. It’s well written and emotionally involves the reader,” the contest’s judge said.

Caroline Barry, now assistant director of marketing for Quinnipiac University athletics, earned a first place award for the photo package she shot during the double-murder trial of South Carolina’s Alex Murdaugh, which drew national and international media coverage.

The images “displayed a keen eye in capturing what was happening around the Murdaugh trial,” the judge wrote. “Well done.”

Students with The Carolina News and Reporter work full time in a semester-long internship setting. The digital outlet competes against commercial outlets, including The State in Columbia, The Post and Courier in Charleston and The Post and Courier’s Free Times in Columbia.

The other honorees are:

– Kate Robins, third place, news story, for “Increased ADHD diagnoses, prescriptions concern local medical experts.”

– Lauren Leibman, second place, feature story, for “Columbia is Ground Zero for hoarders. A lack of resources for hoarders doesn’t help.”

– G.E. Hinson, third place, infographic that accompanied “Speaking for the trees: Why one man is mapping USC’s thousands.”

– Dylan Jackson, 2nd place, video that accompanied “A silent journey: Gamecocks volleyball star excels despite being born deaf.”

USC plans to use private developers to add a massive commercial hub between Williams-Brice Stadium and the Congaree River. (Video by Win Hammond)

Lines form on both sides of the courtroom entrance.

Some people waited for hours to get into the double-murder trial of Alex Murdaugh. (Photo by Caroline Barry)

Columbia has a large number of hoarders compared to the rest of the state. (Provided photo)

Graphic explaining how 3 data points are collected when GIS mapping trees.