BVU senior named national student journalist of the year

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Society for Collegiate Journalists (SCJ) named Buena Vista University senior Olivia Wieseler the national 2019 Arthur H. Barlow Student Journalist of the Year this week. 

The award, first of its kind for a BVU student, recognizes Wieseler in noting her “example represents the highest standards of journalistic ethics, service, leadership, and technical skills.”

“While we were incredibly impressed with all of the nominees, Ms. Wieseler stood out as someone whose contributions as a student media leader indicate she is poised to truly make a difference in this world,” says Dr. Lindsey Wotanis, SCJ president.

Wieseler, of St. Helena, Neb., has grown from an introverted freshman to emerge as a leader on the BVU campus and within the community. One of her first journalism assignments came during her first year on campus when Jerry Johnson, BVU assistant professor of digital media, tasked her with writing the script for a BVU student-produced documentary, “Growing Magic: The Mickey Mouse Cornfield Story,” which detailed a 1988 effort by the Walt Disney Co., and a family of Iowa farmers to plant, grow, and display a 520-acre birthday card for Mickey Mouse.

Additionally, Wieseler has served in leadership roles and consistently delivered editorial content for BVTV, the Buena Vista University campus television station, and The Tack, BVU’s online newspaper organization, where she worked as editor-in-chief.

“In her roles at The Tack, Olivia has stretched herself, reporting on difficult subjects and breaking news,” says Jamii Claiborne, BVU director of assessment, faculty development and advising. “Now, she’s interning with a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper (The Storm Lake Times) and is about to leave for a semester in Washington, D.C., where she will experience educational and internship opportunities that continue to challenge and grow her skills and knowledge.”

By the time Wieseler graduates in May, she will have completed six media internships, experiences that run the gamut from hard news to marketing to tourism promotion.

“Olivia has also done noteworthy First Amendment research for her project within the University’s Honors Program,” says Dr. Andrea Frantz, BVU professor of digital media. “Simply put, Olivia leads by example. She’s among the hardest working student journalists with whom I’ve worked in my 30-year career.”

In accepting the award, Wieseler lauded her professors, BVU staff members, and her fellow digital media students for helping her grow from the shy freshman who initially seemed content to retreat to her dorm room when not in class. Ultimately, her work in journalism has resulted in experiences in Ireland, California, New York City, across the Midwest, and, in a matter of weeks, within the nation’s capital.

“I’m truly honored to be named the National Student Journalist of the Year,” says Wieseler, who also serves as a writing tutor in BVU’s Center for Academic Excellence. “The award says a lot for the people at BVU and what we’re doing in the digital media program. I could not be standing here tonight holding this plaque without the support I’ve received from the people around me, the people I’ve worked with, the people who encouraged me to find my way in an important and incredibly rewarding career field.”

In addition to Wieseler’s accolade, Frantz, who serves as SCJ executive director, presented BVU digital media students with the coveted SCJ Sweeps Award as the University’s program topped the field in points earned during the 2019 national contest. BVU digital media students earned 36 national awards for content published or aired in 2018.