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Chronicle wins prestigious crisis coverage, best newspaper awards from College Media Association

Kaelah Serrano
Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Olivia Cohen, a senior journalism major, reacts to surprise news about the awards made during a staff meeting in the newsroom of the 33 E. Ida B. Wells building on Monday, March 18, 2024. The Chronicle won top honors for best newspaper and best crisis coverage at the College Media Association in New York City.

The Columbia Chronicle won a best newspaper award at the national College Media Association conference in New York City and first place for crisis coverage for its reporting on the historic part-time faculty strike last fall.

Editor-in-Chief Olivia Cohen and Deputy Editor Leah Love led the newsroom’s strike coverage in the fall. Both are senior journalism majors.

Additionally, the Chronicle won an honorable mention for its website, which was redesigned last year by Ruth Johnson, the paper’s creative director and editor-in-chief in Summer 2023. Johnson, a journalism major and graphic design minor, graduated in December.

The David L. Adams Apple Awards are given as a “Best of Show ” at the annual CMA spring conference in New York City. The awards are named in honor of Adams, a faculty advisor at Indiana University.

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Chronicle faculty advisor Jackie Spinner, a communication professor, attended the conference and gave a presentation on how the Chronicle covered the seven-week strike. Chronicle staff produced more than 40 stories related to the walkout in Fall 2023.

“The Chronicle student leadership and our staff took a lot of heat during the strike for doing their jobs,” Spinner said. “This is an important validation of their work, which showcased the kind of accountability reporting that we are teaching student journalists at Columbia. I’m just so happy for the students that a panel of respected journalists and educators outside of Chicago recognized them for their hard work.” 

The Chronicle was previously honored for its strike coverage at the Illinois College Press Association conference in February, where the paper was named best newspaper in the state for mid-sized schools.

Miranda Bucio, the Chronicle’s campus editor and a senior journalism major, said reporting on the strike was not easy. “Many people were not happy with our reporting, but we all worked hard for those seven weeks to provide our audience with accurate and fair coverage,” she said.

In New York, the Chronicle competed against schools with student enrollment between 3,000 and 9,999.

“The Chronicle has always been an important part of our campus community. But now, more than ever, we need the tireless reporting of our student journalists,” Spinner said. “Their work has been so professional in recent months that at times it’s easy to forget they are students, with full class loads and other jobs and responsibilities.”

Suzanne McBride, former Communication Department chair and now dean of Graduate Studies, said the recognition is well-deserved.

“This national honor recognizes the Chronicle staff’s persistence and perseverance during an unprecedented time,” said McBride, who also works as an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. “The Chronicle journalists did such a wonderful job reporting on the weeks-long strike. Their coverage was required reading for the entire Columbia community and set an example for the rest of Chicago journalism.”

Copy edited by Samaher AbuRabah

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About the Contributors
Emily Ramirez
Emily Ramirez, Audience Engagement Editor
eramirez@columbiachronicle.com   Emily Ramirez is a junior marketing major, with a minor in graphic design. She has reported on Columbia's unions and art exhibits in Chicago. Ramirez joined the Chronicle in August 2023.   Hometown: Trevor, Wisconsin
Kaelah Serrano
Kaelah Serrano, Photojournalist
kserrano@columbiachronicle.com   Kaelah Serrano is a junior photojournalism major. She has covered music festivals, campus art exhibitions and metro parades and protests. Serrano joined the Chronicle in January 2023.   Hometown: Chicago, Illinois