Editor’s Note: State awards show Chronicle students deserve recognition

By Megan Bennett, Editor-In-Chief

Student journalists today already do and will continue to face several new challenges as they enter the workforce. While some students at The Chronicle worry about the future of the industry, acknowledgment of the employees’ impeccable work ethic through prestigious awards helps motivate us to keep pushing through difficult times.

The Chronicle staff was honored with its second consecutive General Excellence Award and more than 30 individual awards at the annual Illinois College Press Association Convention Feb. 18. The staff competed mostly against 12 non-daily newspapers with enrollments of more than 4,000 students, including other highly-regarded, local colleges such as DePaul University and Loyola University. For the open categories, The Chronicle was vying for awards alongside 35 other colleges across the state.

The 32 first, second, third and honorable mention awards given to The Chronicle ranged from more traditional categories in reporting, photography, design, advertising to more niche talents like headline writing and on-location competitions that tested photographers’ ability to visually represent vague words like “politics.” The newspaper placed in nearly every category.

The Chronicle’s Editor’s Notes often are used to touch on recent, sometimes controversial, collegewide issues that need a more in-depth analysis for members of the college community. However, in light of The Chronicle’s nearly-record-breaking weekend, it is important to give the entire staff the kudos they deserve as they have and will continue to face adversity, both in the future job market because of President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media and currently at Columbia.

For several years, The Chronicle has not kept secret the resistance it faces from the college administration. Often, our reporting and editing choices are unduly criticized and we are told that what we are reporting is not newsworthy. One of our reporters was told, “The only person that cares about this is you,” by a college higher-up last year while conducting research for a story that was honored at this year’s convention.

In the midst of this doubt as well as outside pressures, The Chronicle staff always pushes through, and their state recognition shows how much it was worth it.

The Chronicle’s awards are not just beneficial for the paper itself. Columbia’s leaders have and should continue to use these honors as a way to market not only the college’s journalism program, but also the other programs from which our employees come.

These majors and concentrations include photography, design, advertising, cinema art and science, creative writing and fashion studies, to name a few. Many of the students who work or have worked at The Chronicle, including myself, chose to attend Columbia solely based on the student newspaper and its high national and state achievements.

It isn’t just the dedication and willingness to produce high-quality work that makes The Chronicle’s staff a group of winners; it is the support and love they gain from one another. The students here become a family; they become in sync with one another and work together like clockwork to produce a professional product every week.

It isn’t uncommon for someone in the newsroom to step in to help a struggling colleague  conduct interviews, make an ad sale, develop a design, or even provide emotional support. Not only is it the key to The Chronicle’s success, but, as a leader, the camaraderie means more to me than any award.

Students at The Chronicle are energized by this latest recognition, but their motivation first and foremost will always be to help the college community stay informed and break news to them in an honest, fair way. As long as Columbia respects and recognizes them in the way they deserve, that coverage and support will never stop.