Indy Earns First in Sweeps and General Excellence in Tri-State Journalism Competition

Indy staffers meet for a picture outside the Penguin Union building. (Andy Bao/The Independent)

For the third consecutive year, Clark College student journalists took first in the “General Excellence” award at a three-state competition that evaluated breaking news coverage and sports and feature-style news reporting.

The staff of the Independent, also known as the Indy, also swept in the publications category of the Pacific Northwest Association of Journalism Educators annual competition.  That award signifies Indy reporters and editors earned the highest number of points in a tally of first, second- and third-place finishes in 21 categories of news reporting, photography, writing and video and web production.

The Indy’s publications sweep was a return to the top spot in that category as the Clark paper finished second last year in that field after dominating it for three consecutive years, 2013-2015.

“That our students keep on winning is a testament to their determination, dedication and discipline,” adviser Dee Anne Finken said.  “Time and again, our students recognize they can and do make a difference.  They rise to the challenge by providing meaningful, accurate and thoughtful information to readers and viewers.”

Contest treasurer Michael Parks said community college publications have a high turnover rate and a low percentage of people who plan to pursue a journalism career. “This contest creates a venue in which the hard work and commitment of community and small-college staff members can be recognized,” Parks said.

Community colleges from Washington, Oregon and Idaho and four-year universities with an enrollment of 2,500 or less are eligible for submission, according to Parks. This year 14 community colleges and four-year St. Martin’s University, from Lacey, Washington, participated.

The Indy also received first-place awards for its staff editorial “The People, The Press, The President: Breaking Down the Walls,” highlighting the complicated relationship between the media and the Trump administration and first-place in “Best Use of Multimedia” for the premiere of the publication’s sports podcast “Sports Talk.” The staff editorial was also published in the Columbian as part of a partnership between the two news organizations.

“I truly can’t take full credit for winning these awards. What made this possible is the combined effort of each reporter and editor,” Editor-in-Chief Ieva Bračiulytė said. “It’s a reflection of the hardworking and cooperative individuals that make up the foundation of the Indy.”

Visuals Editor Diana Aristizábal, former Sports Editor Nolan Welch, former Photography Editor Carson McNamara and former Multimedia Editor Preston Hendrickson also captured individual first-place awards.  Welch’s piece chronicled the story of a Clark soccer player who grew up in an orphanage in Haiti; McNamara’s first was for photographs of the women’s soccer team; Hendrickson’s was for his cover portrait of a geography professor who successfully battled breast cancer; and Aristizábal’s was for a former football player who turned into a Clark basketball star.

Photo Editor Andy Bao and previous Multimedia Editor Preston Hendrickson earned the highest number of individual awards from the Indy staff, with Bao gathering 4 and Hendrickson 3.

In addition to the previously named students, earning individual second-place awards were Kaitlyn Bonn, Trey Wilkins-Luton and Nathan Baird. Third-place awards went to Camille Munster and Dustin Kogler; honorable mentions went to Steven Mitchell, Elliott Lang, Sandra Maszak, Marvin Peña and Adeena Rose Wade.

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