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Pair of first-year journalism students earn national journalism award

Two 2023 spring graduates of Gahanna Lincoln High School received notice Feb. 1 that a story they produced earned a national award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, or NATAS.

Mia Sammons and Jillian Sanders, first-year Ohio University journalism majors from Gahanna, earned a national Student Production Award in the Public Affairs/Community Service category for their project titled “The Beat Goes On.” The project was also the winner submitted by the regional Ohio Valley NATAS chapter.

Sammons said: “’The Beat Goes On’ is about JaShawn Scott, a former Gahanna Lincoln High School student who in 2019 died in a car crash. He was an organ donor and was able to save six lives, and he donated seven organs. If it wasn’t for the Scotts’ willingness to tell their son’s/brother’s story, this award would not have been possible.”

Sanders said: “Producing this story has meant so much to me. When we decided to create this story, we were not sure what direction to take, but when we sat down with the family, we knew the importance behind JaShawn Scott’s life. JaShawn’s mother said, ‘He will probably live on after me,’ and that moment gave me goose bumps.”

Mark Lowrie was the adviser for their project.

In a news release, NATAS noted this was the eighth national student awards. They were announced during a virtual ceremony. Students from more than 120 schools were in national competition after winning their regionals. The Ohio Valley chapter had three national winners.

NATAS said in the news release, “The future of our business is bright thanks to these students and all participants in the competition who want to make journalism and storytelling their life's work.”

Eddith Dashiell is the director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism where Sammons and Sanders are majors. 

“We are proud of Mia and Jillian for their accomplishment and because they represent the caliber of students our program attracts," Dashiell said. "Many of our students bring a high level of skills and storytelling ability to their OU careers, which allows the school to maintain its status as one of the top 10 journalism schools in the country. We congratulate them and look forward to more outstanding work from them.”

Sammons and Sanders said they wanted to do a story to emphasize the importance of being an organ donor. Sammons added, “Simply checking ‘yes’ can save a life.”

The story is available on Sammons’ Instagram account.

NATAS is a service organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of television and the promotion of creative leadership for artistic, educational and technical achievements within the television industry, per its website It recognizes excellence in television with the coveted Emmy® Awards for news and documentary, sports, and daytime television programming, as well as achievements in television technology and engineering.

February 12, 2024
Staff reports