After winning a handful of awards in its region, the Central Florida Future was chosen as a national finalist for "Best All-Around Non Daily Student Newspaper" by the Society of Professional Journalists.
In the 2015 Mark of Excellence Awards, James Madison University's The Breeze took first place in the category, which judges three print issues in their entirety, while the Future and DePaul University's The DePaulia were named finalists.
The paper, which serves a population of 60,000 UCF students, previously won the regional award for this category, beating out University of Georgia's The Red & Black and Florida Gulf Coast University's Eagle News.
For the region 3 contest, which encompassed papers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, judges praised the Future's photography, style and balanced writing.
“Good use of photos. Consistent style that makes the reader want to stop and read the stories," the judges wrote. "Stories are well-written, thought out and documented. Reporters hit some hot topics both on-campus and nationally that can impact their readers. No true editorials, but columns are balanced, not in first-person and hard-hitting.”
Additionally, the Future took home regional awards in feature writing, breaking news reporting and in-depth reporting.
Rachel Stuart's Nov. 12 cover story on Carol Wright, a 57-year-old Wisconsin woman who received the late Brooke Dawkins' heart, won in feature writing, beating out University of Alabama's The Crimson White. Judges described the article as "excellent all the way around." Dawkins was hit and killed while crossing a road near campus in March 2014. The then news editor of the Future, Stuart previously served as a senior staff writer and digital producer.
Winner for breaking news category was Caroline Glenn, now the full-time content manager of the Future. She was commended for her piece on local Muslims connected to and affected by the Chapel Hill shooting. Glenn was able to speak with those who attended school and Mosque with the victims, who were killed in February 2015.
Several Future staff members were among the winners of the in-depth reporting award, which recognized the paper's special March 26 news section, "Is the UCF area safe?" Stories examined Orange County and campus crime, the rise of sexual assault, student government safety efforts and the timeline of escalated apartment crime, following a months-long effort by the staff. The project beat out University of Alabama's The Crimson White and University of South Alabama's The Vanguard.
Ryan Gillespie, the then editor-in-chief who previously served as sports editor, spearheaded the project. Caroline Glenn, the then managing news editor, Nada Hassanein, then a digital producer, Adam Rhodes, the then entertainment editor who previously served as opinions editor, and Alex Wexelman, then a senior staff writer, were among those who worked on the pieces recognized.
The Future also placed as a regional finalist in multiple other categories, including feature writing, general news reporting and editorial writing.
Marina Guerges' March 5 cover story on Mars One's UCF student finalists, was a finalist for feature writing. Then a digital producer, Guerges interviewed two of the 100 finalists chosen from a pool 200,000 applicants hoping to be a part of the first human settlement on Mars in 2025. Guerges went on the serve as editor-in-chief for the Future.
Another cover story, Alex Wexelman's Tower 1 scare remembrance, was a finalist for general news reporting. Two years after a failed killing spree on campus, Wexelman examined "how to spot a killer" from a police and counseling standpoint. The story recalled when 30-year-old UCF student James Oliver Seevakumaran elaborately planned to kill residents of the on-campus apartment Tower 1. Seevakumaran turned his rifle on himself before carrying out his plan.
Lastly, Caroline Glenn, who previously served as opinions editor and variety editor, was a finalist for her editorial writing, which judges three editorial pieces. Glenn wrote on the WDBJ killings, the pressure to major in STEM fields and the impact of student deaths on the campus community.
With a circulation of 14,000, the Central Florida Future publishes a tab every Thursday while maintaining a digital-first mentality on ucfnews.com. Last year, the Future was a national finalist for "Best Affiliated Website" after winning the Region 3 honor.