Generally excellent, once again

By Amanda Murphy

Nail-biting deadlines and pull-my-hair-out moments finally paid off for The Columbia Chronicle staff at the Illinois College Press Association Conference this year, when Chronites left with 32 awards under our arm and something to brag about, at least until next year.

For four consecutive years, The Chronicle has taken home the John David Reed General Excellence Award, which is the most coveted among competitors and a crowning achievement for the best high-circulation college weekly paper in the state. That award topped the afternoon, along with the other 10 first-place plaques for notable photographs, graphic designs and articles.

The staff works countless hours in the “Chron Cave,” reporting campus and South Loop news to students, faculty and staff, while keeping a full-time class schedule and fruitlessly trying to maintain a normal social life.

Because the staff sacrifices a normal college experience—complete with a party blur lasting from Thursday through Sunday—it’s nice to have tangible recognition for a job well done, and it gives the staff an energizing boost to finish the semester’s remaining issues.

These awards validate for the journalist’s role in society, especially when others fail to see his or her values, and the job gets tough.

Recently, a Chronicle reporter came back from questioning a lawyer who didn’t want to deal with a college newspaper, and after briefly answering a question or two, the lawyer said, “You know there’s no money in what you’re doing, right?”

Yes, it’s true, most journalists will not become millionaires. But the lawyer failed to mention a couple of other things: The hours are sporadic because news never stops, dealing with angry or upset people on a regular basis is unavoidable and finding jobs is difficult in the crippled industry.

Yet, people continue to want to become journalists, so it’s certainly not for the money or glamour but the importance of disseminating news and the truth.

Receiving collegiate awards and other recognition is about as glamorous as college newspapers get.

And it’s great The Chronicle staff was recognized for its steadfast dedication to a paper that consumes their lives and makes them question why they pay apartment rent when they actually live at their Chronicle desks.

To show how proud I am, Chronicle staff, here’s a love letter to you:

I love our typical Monday meetings when we critique the paper, still find grammatical errors and realize a page or two wasn’t spell-checked.

I love that we try to lower the noise level when people are conducting phone interviews by waving our hands and creating makeshift signs, telling everyone to be quiet so they can focus.

I love Friday production days when edits slowly creep in and we start a Connect Four tournament (even though I was eliminated first round).

I love when security kicks us out when we’ve been here too long, but Chronicle swag buys us another hour or two.

Most of all, I love the way you love the paper just as much I do.

Thank you to Columbia for allowing us to run independently and to professors in the Journalism Department who occasionally lend a hand. A special thanks to Chris Richert, The Chronicle’s general manager, and Jeff Lyon, the faculty adviser, for their help with production each week and putting up with all of us.