Alumni and Friends

Scripps alumna honored for reporting skills by Ohio Society for Professional Journalists

E.W. Scripps School of Journalism alumna Sydney Dawes (BSJ ’17) was named Best Reporter in her circulation category by the Ohio Society for Professional Journalists (less than 60,000 circulation). 

Sydney Dawes at her desk

Judges said Dawes’ portfolio at the Springfield News-Sun “combines an impressive breadth of coverage with strong storytelling.” Earlier this year, Dawes joined Springfield’s sister paper Dayton Daily News as an all-media journalist.

Scripps alum Ken Klein asked Dawes about her award, storytelling and advice for others:

Ken Klein: You’ve written many news stories since graduation. Which ones impressed the Ohio SPJ judges to honor you as Best Reporter? 

Sydney Dawes: I had a mix of enterprise and breaking news reporting in my portfolio. Last year, I looked into how Clark County and the City of Springfield were working with area nonprofits to address a spike in local families experiencing homelessness. For this story, we talked to members of a homelessness task force, a leader of the area’s homeless shelter and a woman who lost her housing in Springfield after the start of the pandemic.
I also contributed to reporting of a fatal shooting and fire that killed a Clark County deputy, a Springfield mother and her son. I wrote stories in the weeks that followed that pointed to how our community healed, what led to the mass police response and more.

Sydney Dawes standing in front of a field of wildflowers

Ken Klein: The judges were impressed by your storytelling. What are elements of good storytelling? 

Sydney Dawes: Good stories include voices of people directly impacted by an issue. People in your community who have lived experience are the premier experts you’re looking for, to tell stories to others.

Ken Klein: What platforms display your work as a multi-media journalist?

Sydney Dawes: Facebook and Twitter have been my go-to spaces for posting content, but I’ve been trying to branch out to spaces like Instagram/Threads and TikTok. I think there’s a lot of opportunity to engage new audiences on those platforms with immersive projects.

Ken Klein: After graduation, you started in Vinton County (population 12,696). Do you have advice for other young journalists who want to become Best Reporter?

Sydney Dawes: First, don’t be chained to your work desk; immerse yourself into the community you cover. Your storytelling will be full of life and much more impactful if you take time to walk alongside people impacted by issues you are writing about. Explore your community and ask questions about how things work in your city. 

My second bit of advice is this: if you don’t have a sense of where your place is in the field (like I did), write about everything until you find your personal something. I learned so much by having a diversity of stories I worked on every week, and I was able to find what topics ignited my inner spark. What’s great about this job is you never stop discovering new passions!

July 17, 2023
Ken Klein