RLC student journalists score wins at TIPA

Journalism students and student media participants from across the state gathered in Dallas for contests, workshops and presentations at the annual Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA) convention.

Several Richland Chronicle student journalists, photographers and broadcast media participants won awards in live contests and for previously published material. The 2018 TIPA convention was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Dallas March 22-24.

Students from more than 65 community colleges and universities took part in more than 25 live on-site competitions in categories that included print and broadcast news, features, editorial and sports writing, English and Spanish radio and TV announcing, critical reviews and news, feature and team photography.

In addition to the competition, students attended journalism workshops. Among them: “How to keep print alive and thriving,” PR crisis management, headline writing, “Dealing with difficult sources,” “Ethical coverage of a national tragedy,” “Your career in niche journalism” and many others.

Executive Director Fred Stewart from Texas A&M University-Commerce spoke at the “Hall of Fame” luncheon.


“We are finishing our 109th year,” Stewart said. “TIPA is the largest and oldest state collegiate press association in the nation and was established in 1909. We average about 500 students showing up every year for TIPA. We’ve had as many as 640 at a convention.”

Keynote speaker Stella Chavez is a radio news reporter with KERA-FM 90.1, the NPR affiliate in Dallas. She covers education but also contributed to coverage of the ambush-style killing of five Dallas police officers in 2016, the Ebola case in Dallas in 2014 and the migration of unaccompanied minors to Texas, also in 2014.

Chavez spent almost 13 years as a reporter for daily newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla. She offered some valuable advice for student journalists.

“Find mentors and stay in touch with them,” Chavez said. “Pick their brains about opportunities and network. Mentors can help you get through those tough times.”

Chavez told attendees not to be afraid to go out of their “comfort zone.” At one point in her career, when staff and newspapers were shrinking, she worried about finding a job in the journalism field.

“I needed time to think and figure out what to do next,” she said. “I wasn’t ready to leave journalism.”  So she freelanced for a while and advised others to just be flexible.

Opportunities also exist for student journalists through internships.

Leanne Libby, general manager for the Plano Community IMPACT newspaper, said, “Print ain’t dead.” The company prints almost 1.8 million newspapers per month and it is hiring.

“We are a family owned company,” Libby said. “John and Jennifer Garrett created Community IMPACT in 2005 in their home in Pflugerville.”

“We are a fast-growing company,” she said.  “The paper is distributed in 37 cities and each has its own staff. We mail a copy to every single business.”

Richland journalism students and the student media team received 28 awards for on-site contests and previously published work from 2017. Richland competes in Division Two, which includes two and four-year schools that produce weekly newspapers.