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The Columbia Chronicle

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The Columbia Chronicle

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Congratulations to the Class of 2024!

Chronicle named best mid-size newspaper for second consecutive year 


The Chronicle took home first place awards in General Excellence for both print and web divisions for mid-sized schools, from the Illinois College Press Association. 

The student newspaper won awards in 17 other categories, earning eight first place awards. 

Leah Love, deputy editor for the Chronicle and senior journalism major, said winning the General Excellence categories is “validating.” 

“Being awarded for General Excellence is exciting, since it validates what I’ve always thought about the Chronicle: that it’s an excellent paper powered by excellent people,” Love said. 

In addition to campus and metro coverage, the Chronicle was honored for its reporting on the part-time faculty union’s historic seven week-long strike and the college’s on-going financial deficit. 

Love said covering the strike and the financial crisis hasn’t made the year easy.  

“I’ve been super lucky to help lead this team through this year and see all of the hard work, camaraderie and anxiety that fuels this thing up close every day,” Love said. “We don’t do what we do for awards. Still, it’s nice that everything the team pours into the Chronicle to make our coverage accurate, diverse and accessible has been recognized by the ICPA.” 

The Chronicle also took home both first and second place awards for the Ron Wiginton Chicago Photo Contest, out of 42 entries. 

Jackie Spinner, faculty advisor to the Chronicle and professor in the Communication Department, said these photojournalism awards are important for the college, at a moment when they are looking at smaller programs, like photojournalism, as budget cuts to help address Columbia’s $38 million deficit. 

“We are a powerhouse now in the state for photojournalism, and these student awards prove that,” Spinner said. “I am proud of the work and the awards. But I am also fiercely proud that it came from students at Columbia College. I know what a great place this is to learn the craft of photojournalism.” 

Kaelah Serrano, director of photography and junior photojournalism major, said she is “happy to lead a photojournalist team that is constantly motivated to create work and capture important moments” around campus.

Jeremy Shermak, general manager for student media for the Communication Department, said student journalists are filling in gaps in local news coverage where professional news outlets have not been able to keep up due to cuts and closures.

“We saw this with the Chronicle throughout the strike and now into the deficit discussions,” Shermak said. “The Chronicle is on top of all the news that affects the Columbia community the most because we are right here, on campus, listening to our audience and understanding our mission. That is award-winning journalism.”

The award session was for content published during the Spring 2023 through the Fall 2024 semesters. Olivia Cohen, served as editor-in-chief during the fall semester and Columbia alum Ruth Johnson was the editor-in-chief during Summer 2023. 

“These awards really validate all of the work that the students did this past year documenting the strike and the financial challenges the college is facing,” Spinner said. “They got a lot of unfair criticism, particularly during the strike, and I kept reminding them to stay focused doing their jobs. They did that and were recognized for the exemplary journalism they did.” 

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