Outstanding Young Journalists honored

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Two journalists — one from the Southeast Missourian in Cape Girardeau and the other from the Christian County Headliner News in Ozark — received Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist Awards from the Missouri Press Association at the MPA Convention in Kansas City.

Vicki Russell, president of MPA, presented Bridget DiCosmo, crime and courts reporter for the Southeast Missourian, and Amelia Wigton, associate editor of the Headliner News, the awards on Oct. 17, during the annual awards luncheon.

"This is the inaugural year for these awards," said Russell, associate publisher of the Columbia Daily Tribune.  "The Missouri Press Association congratulates Bridget and Amelia for their excellent news reporting in their communities."

Bridget DiCosmo worked for the Southeast Missourian from July 2007 until October 2009.  She was responsible for multiple daily stories, one enterprise story, and one weekend story per week and is noted for handling large volumes of work daily.  She has received awards from the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors and the Suburban Newspapers of America. DiCosmo recently accepted a new position on the east coast.

Bob Miller, editor of the Southeast Missourian, said, "In the last year alone . . . she broke several stories about the sloppy police and prosecution work used to convict a man years ago of a murder.  A judge later ruled ‘actual innocence’ in the case, saying that not only did the prosecution mishandle the case, but that there was no evidence whatsoever that linked the man to the crime."

DiCosmo is "a seeker of injustice, a curious and passionate journalist with unquestioned ethics," Miller said.

Jon Rust, publisher of the Southeast Missourian, said "she develops her sources well and has a knack for displaying humanity within a story and not just the dry facts.  To top it off, Bridget wrote and published a book this year with a major publisher while continuing her award-winning writing for the Southeast Missourian."

DiCosmo received a B.A. degree from St. John’s University and attended law school there for one year.  She taught media law and ethics at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Amelia Wigton "has shown outstanding maturity and leadership capabilities along with organizational and journalistic skills," said Donna Osborn, editor of the Headliner News.

"She moved quickly from general assignment reporter to associate editor. Her main duties include layout and design of the weekly product, special sections and general assignment reporting. She also helps to manage four other reporters in the newsroom."

Wigton received a B.S. degree in print journalism from Missouri State University, Springfield.  She has worked for the Springfield News-Leader, Stephenville (Texas) Empire-Tribune, and Cass County Democrat-Missourian in Harrisonville.  She joined the Headliner News in July 2006.  She has won numerous news, feature and photography awards in Missouri and Texas press association contests.

"Amelia always finds a way to say yes to a project, story or other assignment," Osborn said. "Her positive approach to her career is an inspiration to others in the office.  Her positive approach to her family and community is an inspiration to others in Christian County.

"When others are thinking about it, Amelia is doing it," Osborn said.

Winners of the Outstanding Young Journalist Award — one from a daily newspaper and one from a weekly — have demonstrated excellence in the field of journalism and maintained the quality, ethics and standards of The Journalist’s Creed, written by Walter Williams, founding dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Editors or publishers submitted nominations for the awards, and the nominees must have been younger than 30 years old on June 1, 2009.

The aim of the award is to reinforce the importance of a journalist’s role by recognizing and nurturing talent to further promote quality journalism in Missouri.

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