The write stuff: National kudos for Chronicle

Once again, the Chronicle has been recognized as one of the best student newspapers in the country. The Chronicle was recognized at this year’s Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) conference in Washington, D.C., bringing home its fourth Pacemaker Award, one of the most prestigious awards in college journalism. 

Erica Edwards, lead faculty and coordinator of Richland Journalism and Student Media, said the award is important because “it demonstrates that our students can compete and succeed on a national stage. The Pacemaker Award recognizes the best of collegiate journalism. It is, frankly, an honor just to be nominated.”

A four-day convention for college journalists and advisers from all over the United States, the conference included workshops, keynotes and discussion sessions on many different topics. The most anticipated sessions included conversations with Bob Woodward, the famous Watergate investigative reporter from the Washington Post, and former CIA employee Edward Snowden, live via a transmission from Russia.

The Chronicle was one of 30 finalists for the 2016 Newspaper Pacemaker Award. Cartoonist Abraham Igéné took second-place honors in the category of 2016 Cartooning Awards - Comic Panel/Strip. Photographer Jorge Gomez participated in the photo shootout contest. At press time, he’s among the top five finalists.

“This year’s finalists include some of the best journalism schools in the country -- from the University of California, Los Angeles to Syracuse University to Northwestern University -- and for our students’ work to be rewarded for excellence, especially in that company, is a wonderful accolade. I expect this win to propel us toward future accomplishments for both our individual students and as a team,” Edwards said.

This conference was more than just a unique opportunity. It was also a chance to learn more about the field of journalism and improve writing skills.

The conference took place at the Grand Hyatt Washington, a beautiful hotel located near D.C. Chinatown and the National Mall. The Chronicle staff stayed a few metro station stops from the conference hotel, which made it easy to enjoy other areas of the city in their free time.

One of the favorite sessions was “Blogging in college: Establishing your brand before graduation.” The main focus of the session was to understand the importance of social media and learn the best way to take advantage of all the benefits to reach more readers, gain followers and clients. Another session, “It hurts more than you think: How to cover trauma with compassion,” taught student journalists how to cover tragedies.

Perhaps the best-known speaker was Snowden, a former CIA employee responsible for leaking classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013. Snowden revealed, in detail, some of the surveillance programs that U.S. organizations used to spy on Americans and other countries. Russia has granted him temporary asylum and students got the chance to hear him talk live in a conversation via Skype. Snowden talked about what he had been through and answered a few questions from students.

Richland students toured the Capitol building and received a critique from a special adviser who gave feedback about the design of the Chronicle.

The Chronicle competed against more than 200 college newspapers, including many notable four-year university papers, and was one of only 18 national winners.