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A series on heroin addiction in a rural community written by an Eastern Kentucky University journalism student won first place for In-Depth Reporting in the Society of Professional Journalists Region 5 Mark of Excellence Awards.

Daniel Klapheke, a junior journalism and broadcast double major from Cynthiana, wrote “The Pursuit of Joy: A Battle for Faith, Hope and Integrity” while a 2015 Kentucky Press Association intern at The Falmouth Outlook. He is managing editor for The Eastern Progress student newspaper.

Recognizing the best of collegiate journalism in 2015, the MOE awards were announced during the regional conference April 2 at the University of Cincinnati Kingsgate Marriott. Region 5 includes universities in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

Entries are judged by professionals with at least three years of journalism experience.

The accompanying judge’s comments for Klapheke’s award read:

“This stunning seven-part series … explores the viciousness and complexity of America’s opioid problem. He chooses an unorthodox method, using exquisitely chosen sources to show different sides of the tale – addict, county heroin task force, rehabilitation center. When all the main sources converge in the final story, at a sparsely attended drug forum, the heroin problem comes sharply into focus. From his arresting opening scene to the heart-breaking end, Dan’s sharp eye for detail and storytelling keep readers spellbound. This investigative reporter judge lapsed into tears at the end, partly in awe of what this young journalist has done.”

As a first-place winner, Klapheke advances to the national MOE competition among winners from the 12 SPJ regions. National winners will be notified in late spring and will be recognized at the Excellence in Journalism national conference Sept. 18-20 in New Orleans.

Last month, Klapheke became one of four students in the U.S. selected for the first summer internship program offered through the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. He will intern at the Illinois Valley News in Cave Junction, Oregon.