By Jenna Shelton
The 2020 Spring conference to announce the winners of the Illinois Community College Journalism Association’s annual newspaper contest may have been canceled due to COVID-19, but it didn’t stop the ICCJA from awarding the talented students throughout Illinois for their hard work in 2019.
Lewis and Clark Community College’s student run newspaper, The Bridge was one of the Illinois community colleges that participated in the contest.
“I am beyond proud of the Bridge staff,” Bridge Advisor Louise Jett said, “I was recently asked what one of my greatest accomplishments has been, and I immediately said ‘Advising the Bridge.’ To have once been editor and to now advise this award-winning staff is my greatest accomplishment. Helping students earn much deserved accolades feels amazing.” Under Jett’s tutelage, L&C’s student run newspaper, The Bridge, was able to achieve 17 awards out of the 359 total submissions. With 17 being a lucky number, L&C won 17 awards out of the 17 schools participating, which in itself was a record breaking number of school participation for the last 5 years.
The Bridge competed with the entirety of Illinois community colleges in the Open Division, which has 9 different categories to enter, winning 6 awards out of a total of 75 submissions. The Bridge also qualified in Division 2, a division that has 14 separate categories to enter that is based upon the number of enrolled students at the school, with L&C winning 11 awards out of a total of 152 submissions and going up against 7 other community colleges. Division 1 had 10 Illinois community colleges participating with a total of 132 submissions for that category.
With the ability to compete in the Open Division against colleges that may have twice the size of the student body, winning a large number of awards in this category is a big deal and a great victory for The Bridge. “I am extremely impressed by how many awards the staff earned in the Open Division,” Jett said. “Due to our school size, we compete in Division 2 with the other smaller schools, but all the community colleges go head-to-head in the open categories. Earning six Open Division awards is amazing!”
The Bridge Editor-in-Chief and Occupational Therapy student, Dillon Neibel, had the same sentiments, saying “ Being that this is my first year as Editor-in-Chief, I am both proud, and honored to be a part of The Bridge. To win as many awards as we did is quite a feat, and I am confident that we will do even better next year.”
Neibel, winner of multiple awards including an Honorable Mention for Report of the Year in the Open Division said, “I am deeply honored to be a part of such a talented group of individuals, I am also appreciative of our incredible advisor Louise Jett. Without her, I would not have been able to accomplish what I have, and I’m sure many, if not all of The Bridge, feels the same way.”
The Bridge students collected awards in the following categories:
- 1st Place, Staff Editorial, Division 2, “Letter to the Governor” – By The Bridge Staff, who were required to submit a single, published editorial by one writer or by the staff as a whole. Judging was based on clarity, strength of writing, creativity & impact on public policy and quality of life. ICCJA judges said “I like this editorial. I like it a lot. It stakes out a clear position of importance, it cites examples, it speaks directly to power (the governor). I truly hope you received a powerful response from the governor’s office. Nice work.”
- 1st Place, Arts Review, Division 2, “ADAM is the Most Disgusting Excuse for Representation I have Ever Seen” – By Ashtyn Britt. For this category entries were meant to address commentary on movies, books, TV shows, campus displays or any other relevant art forms with the goal of assessing the value of those works. The judges felt that this piece was, “A forceful, impassioned piece of criticism that could use some attribution besides afterellen.com to verify some of the charges made. The piece is well-organized (five major points) and the words fall like 25-pound sledge hammers. The critic cites concrete examples of unethical and irresponsible behaviors in the story that [s]he rails against. A blunt and effective essay.”
- 1st Place, Sports Photo, Division 2, Men’s Soccer Photo, Page 1B, Sept., 2019 – By Trevor Ayres Requirements for entry must address a sports event relevant to a newspaper’s readers. Include the sports story connected to this photo. Photographers were able to submit a news photo that was published without a news story. Entries were judged based on newsworthiness, content, and composition. The judges said, “I would have liked to have seen this photo bigger, but from what I could tell it’s sharp and features a good moment. Good frame.”
- 1st Place, Feature Photo, Division 2, “Alton Expo Fun” – By Trevor Ayres, who’s entry needed to address a news event or issue relevant to a newspaper’s readers. Include the feature story connected to this photo. Photographers were able to submit a feature photo that was published without a story. Entries were judged based on newsworthiness, content, originality, style, and composition. Judges comments were, “Photo is well-lit, in focus, engaging and exciting.”
- 1st Place, Headline, Division 2, “Post Leaves Community on the Fence” – Alexander Gent who’s submission must have included both the story and the headline for any news, feature, sports or opinion story. This submission must have rendered the judges speechless, as there were no comments given for this award winning piece.
- 2nd Place, Feature Photo, Division 2, “Children and Bubbles” – By Krystie Morrison. Krystie was required to address a news event or issue relevant to a newspaper’s readers, while including the feature story connected to this photo. Entries were judged based on newsworthiness, content, originality, style, and composition. “Spontaneous, well-focused, and sharp. Good job.”, were the responses by the judges.
- 2nd Place, Page Design, Division 2, Page 12A, Oct. 2019 – By Alex Johnson. Submission categories could include section fronts, inside pages, editorial pages – essentially any page that is not a front page for the newspaper. Center spreads could be used if they cover a single topic and be no more than two pages. Entries were judged for both their design and content, which includes editing and accuracy. Judges gave some feedback along with the compliments of, “Bright, colorful design draws the reader in. The page is solid and clean.”
- 2nd Place, Sports Photo, Division 2, Women’s Soccer Photo, Page 1B, Sept. 2019 – By Trevor Ayres. Photographers were required to address a sports event relevant to a newspaper’s readers. Include the sports story connected to this photo. Students could have submitted a news photo that was published without a news story. Entries were judged based on newsworthiness, content, and composition. “This frame is sharp and to the point. It delivers the story in one frame. Clean background,” were just some of the comments made by the judges on this submission.
- 2nd Place, News Story of The Year, Open Division, “L&C Board of Trustees Coverage” – By Dillon Neibel and Alexander Gent, who had submitted an article related to a single news event or issue that addressed a problem, issue or event that affects the campus community. Judges looked particularly for initiative and in-depth reporting, but they also consider writing quality, accuracy, and fairness. This story could have been written by multiple staff members but The Bridge was only allowed to submit only one entry in this category. The judges found the article interesting, saying, “The things going on with this board are truly wild. I’d have liked to read some more investigative or analytical pieces as far as the impact of these board members, but the stories you’ve written here could be easily understood by someone unfamiliar with the campus.”
- 2nd Place, Editorial Cartoon, Open Division, “Four Boardsmen of the L&C Apocalypse” – By Dillon Neibel and Alex Johnson. This editorial entry needed to comment on issues significant to the newspaper’s readers. Comics could have been entered as well. The judges found the piece to be, “Nicely done. “
- 2nd Place, Editorial Writer of the Year, Open Division – By Ashtyn Britt. Britt was required to submit three published editorial by one writer or writing team. Judging was based on clarity, strength of writing, creativity, and impact on both public policy and quality of life. The Bridge was allowed to enter only one entrant in this category. The judges found said “These were written by a personable writer who takes on topics a reader might relate to.”
- 2nd Place, Podcast, Open Division, “When We Get to It: The Bridge Podcast” – By Ashtyn Britt, Olivia Bettorf and Alex Johnson. This team was to focus on news reporting and/or storytelling. Judges evaluated podcasts on their ability to tell a compelling story, reveal new information in a clear presentation and using an appropriate, engaged voice/tone and with topics that should be of interest to students. Podcasts could be live to tape, or they could have been produced audio packages. Judges also considered the quality of audio and other technical aspects. Podcasts were not to be longer than 30 minutes. The judges said, “I like that it was focused on photography/photographers and a behind-the-scenes look at the paper. I like the quality of the sound and banter between guests. I especially like the questions/answers about where to learn photography on campus, and in general the hosts were prepared with questions.”
- 3rd Place, Mike Foster General Excellence, Division 2 – By The Bridge Staff, who were required three complete published issues of the newspaper during the past year. Newspapers were judged on news content, quality of writing, evidence of in-depth reporting, presentation/design, originality and editing/accuracy. Judges felt that, “The teacher spotlight is a great touch. Layout is easy to navigate.”
- 3rd Place, Arts Review, Division 2, “Consuming Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Stadium Arcade” – By Dillon Neibel. Entries were required to address commentary on movies, books, TV shows, campus displays or any other relevant art forms with the goal of assessing the value of those works. The judges said, “The critical content near the end is better than the more informational material near the beginning. My fave lines are “The whole album is a masterful flow of generous ear candy. It feeds my soul every time, and if I listen to one song from the album, I always end up listening to the whole thing, and I can’t listen to any other music until I do”
- 3rd Place, Staff Editorial, Division 2, “Board Votes No on Investment” – By Dillon Neibel who could have submitted a single published editorial by one writer or by the staff as a whole. Judging was based on clarity, strength of writing, creativity & impact on public policy and quality of life. “It’s certainly good the newspaper keeps an eye on the college finances” were just some of the comments of the judges.
- 3rd Place, Graphics, Open Division, “Soybean Historical Timeline Infographic” – By Alex Johnson. Entries were judged by how well they visually report information in charts, diagrams, or other non-narrative styles. The judges said “This is a nice idea for a timeline and I think the layout is really smooth and easy to follow. I also like the color choices, which really give this an “earthy” feel.”
- Honorable Mention, Reporter of the Year, Open Division – By Dillon Neibel. This award recognized individuals for outstanding reporting and writing that concerns significant issues and news relevant to campus life. Writers could submit three news stories published during the previous year. Entries were evaluated based on the depth of reporting, quality of sources, concision of writing and precision of editing. The Bridge could enter only one entrant in this category. Some of the judges responses included, “Good job at covering a controversial issue on campus. Good use of quotes. Solid reporting.”
For more information on The Bridge or how to join the ranks of these talented and outstanding individuals, please contact Louise Jett at firstname.lastname@example.org.