Discussing the cultural significance of the Clotilda, the last known American slave ship, and the importance of informing the next generations of its history earned Troy University alum Jared McBride a 2022 Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
The Mark of Excellence Award honors the best in student journalism across multiple mediums, including print/online, art/graphics, television, videography and other platforms. Judges can choose one national winner in each category and up to two national finalists. If judges determine that none of the entries rose to the level of excellence, no award is given.
A native of Mobile and growing up just 53 miles from where the Clotilda was discovered, McBride said he knew very little of the ship, its history and the resulting impact on the area and people. An intern at Troy Public Radio when his segment was produced, he said he wanted to pick a topic that was interesting to him but that could also benefit other people.
“I wanted to do a story that was not going to just spark my interest,” he said. “I wanted to talk about something that could teach someone else something they didn’t already know, or know a lot about. I’m from Mobile and I’d never heard much about this, so I wanted to make it well known.”
Earlier this year, McBride was named the Region 3 Regional Winner in the “Radio In-Depth Reporting” category. Region 3 is comprised of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Regional winners go on to compete against each other at the national level, and this summer he was named the National Winner for his category.
“I was shocked when I found out I’d won,” he said. “I’m grateful for this. I was happy with the regional response, but to find out I won the national award, it was just a big shock—knowing how many people I competed against and that mine was selected as the best among all those stories. It’s very humbling.”
Kyle Gassiot, Operations Manager, Host and Producer for Troy Public Radio, said he is extremely proud of their radio students.
“This is the second year in a row that Troy Public Radio and Troy University have won a national award in an audio category,” he said. “This particular award is well deserved, and Jared did a masterful job with this story. It’s a fine example of what radio does best: tell listeners a personal story that points to a larger community issue. Once you hear his story, you’ll know why it did so well in the competition.”
McBride graduated from TROY in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and said he’s still writing stories, but is searching for more opportunities to get into radio and sports journalism. He credits TROY with giving him the necessary tools and experience to succeed.
“I don’t want to sound biased, but I would tell anyone considering journalism to consider Troy University,” he said. “The journalism program is incredible. It’s a place where you can get your feet wet. Most jobs ask for experience, and TROY is the perfect place to give you that experience before you step out into the field.”
In preparation for his segment, McBride interviewed Mobile residents, Alabama Historical Commission archaeologist Stacy Hawthorne and Theo Moore, a 2012 TROY graduate and producer of “Afrikan by Way of American,” a documentary about the Clotilda.
Listen to “Mobile Residents Learn the History of the Last Known Slave Ship in Alabama” here.