Writing the Path: ICCJA Conference

By Isabelle Flener 


 The Bridge garnered 24 awards from the Illinois Community College Journalism Association, including nine first-place awards, each bestowed upon a different Bridge staff member. Seven staff members had the excitement of clinching a first-place victory. The Bridge also scored first-place awards in the Mike Foster General Excellence Award (Division 2) and Best Student Media (Division 2).  

All attendees had the opportunity to participate in numerous breakout sessions during the conference, gaining valuable insights to apply to the paper. The conference took place on Nov. 8th and 9th 2023, at Eastern Illinois University.  

Six staff members attended the conference and immersed themselves deeper in the journalism world. They also personally collected any awards they received in person. Attendees had the chance to network with fellow newspaper members from various community colleges. 

The Bridge is under the guidance of advisor Louise Jett and editor Jeannette Carrington. Carrington, who serves as the editor-in-chief, writer, photographer, and graphic designer, was among the seven members receiving a first-place award. She accepted the award in person at the conference.  

“I was invited to join the bridge as it was never on my radar,” said Carrington. “I soon realized that I enjoyed it. In Fall 22, I filled the vacant associate editor position and continued through the end of spring. I was so excited and surprised that I won an award. There is a lot of great competition in the division and on our staff.” 

For some, this was their first time earning a first-place award. James Pepper, a photographer for The Bridge, received his award in person.  

“I won first place for feature photo for a photo I took last year at Spring Fest. I was so happy to win this award; I got second place last year, so I really wanted to win this year. I was so honored to win; I was crying a bit at the ceremony,” said Pepper.  

The conference extended its invitation beyond journalists, including photographers, graphic designers, social media managers, and editors, offering unique breakout sessions covering design, photography, interviewing, structuring, and more.  

“I really enjoyed the conference,” said Pepper. “My favorite part of it was being able to spend time with my fellow coworkers at the bridge and get to know them better.” 

Some members of The Bridge never knew the journalism field would be something right for them until they got their foot through the door.  

“I never thought I could make a career out of it. My husband started encouraging me to use my skills and increase my skills. I was doing some graphic design at my job and found that I liked it. So, in January 2020 I started at LC to obtain a graphic design degree and photography certificate,” said Carrington. 

Readers can pick up a complimentary copy of The Bridge newspaper, available monthly across Lewis and Clark campuses and in the community, to stay connected with local stories and happenings. 

2023 ICCJA Conference

About Isabelle Flener

Isabelle is working towards her Associates of Arts degree, with plans to graduate in Fall 2024. After completing her arts degree, she intends to transfer to a university to pursue a degree in photojournalism.
View all posts by Isabelle Flener →

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