WKUPJ wins Hearst Intercollegiate Championships in photojournalism and multimedia

We are a proud group of WKUPJ faculty, staff and alumni and are always amazed by the dedication and talent of our students. Once again, WKUPJ has won the Hearst Intercollegiate Championship in Photojournalism and Multimedia. This is the 24th time WKUPJ has won in Photojournalism and this is our 7th year in a row that we have won Multimedia.  So many people to thank… and since we are visual people, it might be easier to show than tell.  Congratulations to all, and for a full rundown with links to their work, please visit http://www.hearstawards.org/competitions/2017-18/


2018 Capstone Projects

We are excited to present an exhibition of the 2018 PJ436 Projects class, WKUPJ’s capstone course.


Arms to Embrace

A short documentary about protecting the ones you love in the face of a school shooting


Two women in Western Kentucky embark on a journey to spark a change in the mindset of their community, in the face of recent school shootings. Their motive – to protect the ones they love.


Journey to Pascha: Cultivating a Love for Christ


At Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, three community members make their way through the seasons of Great Lent and Holy Week, pursuing their goal of cultivating love for Christ in their hearts and their homes. Jackson struggles to create a new framework of belief for his family. Jeanette faces her inability to control the faith of her children. Father Jason struggles to balance his spiritual fatherhood with the demands of being a husband and a dad. This short documentary explores what it means to lose and gain faith and family.

Great Lent is the 40 days leading up to the annual ritual reenactment of Jesus’s last days called Holy Week.

Pascha is the Eastern Orthodox name for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, called Easter in western Christianity.



Unexpected Strength

Stories of adversity, inspiration and second chances through the eyes of athletes


What do a college student, stay-at-home mom, swim coach, visually impaired high schooler and mentor for underserved children have in common?  This project explores the stories of five different athletes beyond the court. It dives into their individual motivations, challenges, and the role athletics plays in their respective lives.



Searching for Hope

America’s most beautiful small town has some secrets.


Over the past few years, Bardstown Kentucky has had several unsolved crimes, including the disappearance of Crystal Rogers. After the sensational news stories slowed down, America quickly forgot about the mystery of this small town. However, the pain of Crystal’s disappearance is no less real for the people still searching for hope.



Love as steady as a rock

A father’s love powers him to care for his son


Larry Cushenberry, 74, is a retired Health teacher who has Parkinson’s Disease. Larry’s case of Parkinson’s affects his posture, walk, balance, and hand movement. Cushenberry was diagnosed six years ago and Parkinson’s has been detrimental to his health. Despite Cushenberry’s diagnosis, he is the main caregiver and legal guardian to Greg Phillips, 48, his nephew, who he refers to as his son. Larry’s health hinders him and soon he won’t be able to care for Greg.


Surviving in Hell

How diabetes affects people’s lives.


Have you ever seen someone out at a restaurant stick a needle in their finger or give themselves a shot? Do you know someone who carries an insulin pump with them everywhere they go? Diabetes has become more prominent in recent years, yet no one seems to realize how deeply it affects those diagnosed. It is something they live with and think about daily.




Cada día por Dios (Every day for God)

Inside La Luz del Mundo and the expansion of Hispanic evangelicalism


On the corner of Clay Street and West 12th Avenue in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Light of the World church (Iglesia La Luz del Mundo) towers above the surrounding neighborhood buildings. The church has become a cultural hub for the local Hispanic community through festivals and activities. Through their work at the church and a nearby taquería, tortilleria and tienda – all of which are owned and operated by the church – members of La Luz del Mundo hope to serve the community through faith and spread the word of God.




Through Our Eyes Week 3

“I think it’s incredible to see how people live from up here,” says Tom Vernon as he looks out the window of his small plane. Vernon has been in the sky for the past thirty years, working as a “taxi” service for missionaries in Africa, as a UPS pilot, and flying on his own for fun. | Skyler Ballard

WKU Forward Dwight Coleby (22) goes up for two as he is defended by ODU Forward Trey Porter (15) during the Hilltoppers 88-66 win over on Saturday Feb. 24, 2018 at E.A Diddle Arena. | Shaban Athuman

Joe Reed, 21, from Buffalo, NY listens to music on his cellphone before his match at the first annual Louisville Select Boxing Championship. Reed would go on to win the match. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. I had a great time in Louisville, drove down here with my team and Coach Nick treated us right, stayed in a nice hotel and the event was crazy. Winning was a part of the fight,” Reed said. | Michael Blackshire

Patrick McGee Sr., 53, was once a convicted felon who served in a Illinois State Prison. Recently incarcerated, he now is reconnecting with his family in Louisville, Ky to commemorate the loss of his son Louis McGee Jr., who was murdered March 28, 2017. “Getting that call, a call I never wanted to hear. I just knew that call was coming. I’m staying in Louisville with my wife trying to make this thing work. We have two other children still alive. I want my family to know I’m wanting to get better. I’m doing my best to stay here until the 28th to remember my son. It’s hard, but I’m doing my best not to catch that bus back to Illinois,” McGee Sr. said. | Michael Blackshire

Deacon Tyrone D. Booker Sr. holds the obituary of his son Tyrone D. Booker Jr., who was murdered in 2015 from gun violence in the back of a gas station. Tyrone D. Booker Jr. was apart of the misidentified four, who were a group of four young black males who were falsely accused of assault which lead to a 1.5 million dollar settlement. “My son had a target on his back after that settlement deal. Him and the three other young man became Louisville Legends. I told my son not everyone is your friend. People out there know who you are. I asked God why did you take my son. Why after seeing him being falsely imprisoned did you take him from this world, and he told me he needed to go home because he was in trouble in this world,” Deacon Booker said. | Michael Blackshire

WKU Forward Justin Johnson (23) walks off the court following the Hilltoppers 67-66 loss in the championship game of the Conference USA tournament against Marshall University on Saturday March 10, 2018 at The Star in Frisco, Tx. | Shaban Athuman

WKU Forward Tashia Brown (10) look to make a free throw during the Lady Toppers 78-50 win in first game of the Conference USA tournament against University of Texas at San Antonio on Thursday March 8, 2018 at The Star in Frisco, Tx. | Shaban Athuman

Hilltoppers’ Ben Morrison pitches during a winning game against Belmont at the Nick Denes Field, February 20th. The Hilltoppers defeated the Belmont 4-1. | Fahad Alotaibi

William Edmonds and Chloe Henderson from ONYX model management. | Emily Moses

Chloe Henderson, ONYX model from Huntsville, Alabama. | Emily Moses

Harlem Globetrotter’s guard “Flip” swings off the hoop after climbing on top to block the Washington General’s shots during their performance on Monday, Mar. 12, 2018 in E.A. Diddle Arena. | Silas Walker


WKUPJs Place in Hearst Multimedia III Enterprise Reporting

Congratulations to Casper H. Christensen and Abby Potter for placing in the Multimedia III Enterprise Reporting Competition of the 2017-2018 Hearst Journalism Awards Program. Casper was awarded fourth place and a $1,000 scholarship for his multimedia project “The Road Not Taken.” Abby was awarded fifth place and a $1,000 scholarship for her multimedia project, “When I’m Healed.” Western Kentucky University placed first in the Intercollegiate Multimedia Competition with the highest accumulated student points from three of the four multimedia competitions.

Casper H. Christensen’s project, “The Road Not Taken.”

Abby Potter’s project, “When I’m Healed.”


Through Our Eyes Week 2

Ole Miss sprinter Alvin Westbrook competes in the 400 meter dash during Vanderbilt’s Music City Challenge on Saturday Feb. 10, 2018 at Vanderbilt Rec. Center and Indoor Track Facility in Nashville, Tennessee. | Shaban Athuman

When we were younger, I knew him as Didier. We sat next to each other in the one-room schoolhouse in Tanzania for three years, watching the dirt from the floor blow through the room. It was a rainy day in third grade when he told me goodbye and he moved across the ocean with his family. The next time I saw him was in the living room of his parents home in Louisville, Kentucky. He introduced himself as Jimmy. He didn’t have a foreign sounding name or an accent, like I do. Fifteen years after sitting beside him in the one-room schoolhouse 7,851 miles away, we now go to the same college. We still remember the close knit family feeling of the refugee camp. | Shaban Athuman

A cowboy prepares to ride out into the arena of the Agricultural Exposition Center on Sunday during the Lone Star Rodeo. The rodeo featured more then 6 events including bareback bronc riding and bull riding. | Silas Walker

WKU cheerleaders run on the court before the Hilltopper 83-76 win on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, at E.A. Diddle Arena, in Bowling Green, Ky. | Evan Mattingly

Florida International University guard Josh Stamps (0) dunks during the Panthers 83-76 loss to to Western Kentucky University at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. | Shaban Athuman

Head Coach Rick Stansbury listens as the team is introduced before taking on Florida International University on Saturday Feb. 10, 2018 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green. | Shaban Athuman


Through Our Eyes Week 1

Julian Rodriguez plays with his son Christopher at their home on Pueblo’s East Side. Julian’s decades long struggle with addiction brought him intimately close to the gang operations as he often bought from and sold for the gangs in order to support his own addiction. With his son, Christopher on the way, he achieved sobriety and had his facial skeleton tattooed to remember his commitment to his son and to commemorate his brother “Bone Head” who was killed in a shootout with the police. “Everything that I desire and want in this life is for that boy.” Christopher will grow up on the East Side, in Duke territory, but Julian hopes that a loving relationship with his father can keep him from that lifestyle. | Gabriel Scarlett

Stephen Logsdon, 33, is attending second year at the Vette City Con and plans to keep coming to them as long as they keep having them. Logsdon dressed up as Harley Quinn and had handmade almost everything from the bat to the hammer. Vette City Con will be held for their second year of performances and event venues at the National Corvette Museum on Saturday Jan. 27, 2018 and Sunday Jan. 28, 2018. | Shaban Athuman

Stephen Logsdon, 33, is attending his second year at the Vette City Con and plans to attend more as long as they keep having them. Logsdon dressed up as Harley Quinn and had handmade almost everything from the bat to the hammer. | Tyger Williams

A young gang banger, age 14, visits the memorial site for one of his fallen brothers, another of the Los Carnales East Side Dukes. He has embraced this dangerous lifestyle and says that he wants to ‘bang’ for the rest of his life, just like his family members. “Ya know, you just gotta be out here and follow orders and do what you’re told,” he said. “That’s how I’mma make a name for myself.” | Gabriel Scarlett

Once a prison yard shot caller with fifty men under his command, Johnny has since chosen a path away from the Los Carnales gang and into a welding job in Denver. He drives two hours each day to work. Finding employment as a convict took him years, but he feels that he owes it to the next felon to work hard and not burn those who have given him a chance. “I am proof that it is possible.” | Gabriel Scarlett

DaeQuan Smith, 24, holds a locally made t-shirt of his brother, Kentrail Robbins, who was murdered in 2012 in a still unresolved case. “My older brother was a handsome young man. Plenty females. Always dressed nice. Someone I could look up to. He never fronted on me either; he always looked out for me and my sister. We have the same parents you know. Grew up in the same house and wore the same clothes. Last time I saw him was in the mall and I told him to buy me some new shoes and he was with his friends and he tried to front and say he wouldn’t buy me some new shoes but I knew he would. Last time I saw him. It seems I loose at least two friends a year. Every time I go back to school I loose a friend and that takes a hold of me when the semester starts,” Smith said. | Michael Blackshire

Aspire Academy forward T.J. Smith (1) reaches for a rebound during the ‘Hooping on the Hill’ tournament at Bowling Green High School. Aspire Academy won 70-45 vs. Bella Vista. | Silas Walker

Tyreon Clark lines up his Boys to Men Leadership students before they go to class at Parker Bennet Curry Elementary School. Clark gives each of his kids a handshake or high-five. “It’s up to people like me to be responsible for the development of programs like this” Clark said about the leadership programs he is involved with. | Silas Walker


WKUPJ Student Gabriel Scarlett receives Alexia Award of Excellence

Congratulations to WKUPJ student Gabriel Scarlett on receiving an Award of Excellence for the Alexia 2018 Student Grant! His project, “Flock of Doves,” reexamines the reality of one city’s gang culture, with emphasis on the fragile nature of youth and longing for acceptance.

“This essay is for those who searched for brotherhood on the streets, but instead found blue jumpsuits, stray bullets, and roadside memorials. They are the doves.”

View the project here: http://www.alexiafoundation.org/stories/flock-of-doves-gabriel-scarlett

Julian Rodriguez plays with his son Christopher at their home on Pueblo’s East Side. Julian’s decades long struggle with addiction brought him intimately close to the gang operations as he often bought from and sold for the gangs in order to support his own addiction. With his son, Christopher on the way, he achieved sobriety and had his facial skeleton tattooed to remember his commitment to his son and to commemorate his brother “Bone Head” who was killed in a shootout with the police. “Everything that I desire and want in this life is for that boy.” Christopher will grow up on the East Side, in Duke territory, but Julian hopes that a loving relationship with his father can keep him from that lifestyle. | Gabriel Scarlett


Families tell their story of loss to Louisville’s Gun Violence

Michael Blackshire started his journey to document victims of gun violence last semester in Louisville, Ky. What started as a series of portraits evolved over time as he came closer with the family’s of homicide victims and began recording their stories with audio then transitioning to video. As the project became bigger he brought together a team of WKUPJ students to help him bring his vision for the story together. Michael along with Fahad Alotaibi, Gabriel Scarlett, and Shaban Athuman attempt to tell the stories of people that often feel their stories aren’t being told.

To view the entire piece, visit https://michaeldblackshire.atavist.com/broken-branches



Rochelle Turner wraps her body around her only son’s Ricky Jones High School jacket. Ricky Jones was murdered April 2017 from gun violence at the age of 29-years-old. “At first I would look at other mothers who lost their sons and thing their sons were into something and mine wasn’t. I would think that maybe if my son was doing something wrong or died from a disease or committed suicide I would be able to find closure, but in any way I can’t bring my son back. Hew was murdered but his life wasn’t his own. He had five children who now have to live without a father in their life,” said Smith.

Judy Wilkins, Jasmine Wilkins, and Sherry Simmons, left to right, hold the graduation picture of Gregory Wilkins who was murdered at his home on November 26, 1996 at 1737 South 22nd Street, Louisville, KY. “I visit his grave once a week. I have been once a week for 21 years,” said his mother Judy Wilkins. “I once dreamed that he was reaching out to my hand and I almost reached his. I said baby why did they take you so soon. He told me my time had come.The last thing I heard him say is take care of Jasmine, and let Sherry know that I love her, and that I love you, my mother and my dad. Then he was gone.”

Craig Bland holds middle school and elementary school photos of his son Craig Bland Jr. and Toreze Bland who were both murdered in 2012 and 2015 from gun violence in Louisville. “After my first son was murdered the situation made me worried about loosing my youngest son. I thought it was only a matter of time until they shot my youngest one. The streets killed my sons. My son’s were good people they just were around the wrong people. I watched my wife Diana die from cancer in front of my eyes, my brother was murdered, my two nephews were murdered, and now I have no more sons, no more children. There used to be a lot of live in this house. That love is gone now.” said Bland.



Rune Aarestrup Pederson & Srijita Chattopadhyay place 2nd & 3rd in Hearst Multimedia

Congratulations to Rune Aarestrup Pederson and Srijita Chattopadhyay for placing in the Multimedia News Competition of the 2017-2018 Hearst Journalism Awards Program. Rune was awarded second place and a $2,000 scholarship for his multimedia project he produced while in PJ436 last spring, “Changing Every Day.” Srijita was awarded third place and a $1,500 scholarship for her multimedia project, “Sanctuary” she produced for her final assignment while in PJ433.

Changing Every Day by Rune Aarestrup Pederson

Sanctuary by Srijita Chattopadhyay


College GeekFest at WKU March 23-24

Save the date! GeekFest is coming to WKU on March 23-24. Join us for lectures from professionals in the field, a shootout, and a print trade. The workshop is free and open to everyone, thanks to the folks at A Photo a Day. Below is a list of speakers and more information about the event.