The Columbia Chronicle wins Sweepstakes Award and 28 others at state convention

By Staff

The student staff of The Columbia Chronicle won a total of 29 awards, including first place wins in eight categories, at the Illinois College Press Association’s annual convention, held Feb. 19-20 via Zoom. The awards recognized work published between December 2019 and the end of November 2020.

The Chronicle competed against news organizations from 23 other institutions and was one of seven schools to win awards in the “Non-Dailies – Enrollment 4,000 or More” category. ICPA reported 896 total entries.

In the non-daily newspaper/large school class, the staff, led by former Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Yetter and later Co-Editors-in-Chief Kendall Polidori and Mari Devereaux, won first place for the Sweepstakes Awardthe convention’s overall biggest awardbased on an accumulation of points awarded across all categories.

The staff of the Loyola Phoenix at Loyola University Chicago was the runner-up to the Chronicle. The staff of the Daily Illini at the University of Illinois won the Sweepstakes Award for daily newspapers, and the staff of F Newsmagazine at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago won for small school non-dailies.

The Chronicle also won first place recognition in its class for in-depth reporting (Devereaux, Polidori and former staffer Ignacio Calderon), feature story other than sports (former staffer Knox Keranen), general news photo (Zachary Clingenpeel), front page layout (former staffer Shane Tolentino), online news site (staff, plus Tolentino and former staffer Wesley Enriquez for their work managing and laying out the content on, and opinion page (staff).

In the Open category, with the Chronicle competing against all student news organizations in the state, the Chronicle won first place in the special supplement category for the 2019 Sex Issue.

The Chronicle also did well in other Open categories. Calderon and Paige Barnes earned second place among all student reporters in the state in the special COVID-19 coverage category. Former staffer Jennifer Chavez earned third place recognition in both the editorial cartoon and graphic illustration categories. Former staffer Gianella Goan placed third in the cartoon, strip or panel competition, and Opinions Editor Isaiah Colbert earned honorable mention recognition for his critical review of the film “Antebellum.”

Camilla Forte, director of photography at the Chronicle, won second place in the annual ICPA Photo Competition (pictured below) held during the convention, competing against photographers from schools across the state who were tasked with grabbing a shot showing how life has adapted during the pandemic.

Andrew Barbera, co-owner of Beard and Belly, 6155 N. Broadway, clears ice off the ground in the restaurant’s outdoor seating area. The business uses heated lamps to make outdoor dining during the winter more accessible, but the owners have avoided erecting any sealed structures. “We’ve tried to do everything very cautiously,” Barbera said. “We just didn’t feel like it was appropriate to build an indoor space outdoors.” Camilla Forte

“There is no easy way to describe the emotion I feel from seeing the amount of recognition our staffers have received for the immense amount of time and work they have put in during the past year,” Polidori said. “Although awards are not the purpose behind the work we do, it is humbling to know it has made an impact. Each day I work alongside this team I am overwhelmed with pride, so it is satisfying to take a step back and celebrate ourselves for a bit.”

In most categories, student news organizations could submit two entries, and both of the Chronicle’s entries earned recognition in five categories. In addition to earning first place for the opinion spread in the Chronicle’s special “The New Normal” edition from May 2020, columns from Dyana Daniels and Myer Lee also earned the Chronicle a third place finish in the opinion page category.

On top of the Chronicle’s win for in-depth reporting for the story “Chicago’s one-star nursing homes were troubled before the pandemic. Now they’re ground zero,” produced in conjunction with Sam Roe’s “Investigative Reporting” course in the Communication Department, the Chronicle’s “Difficult to Transfer” series about the college’s pandemic-related curricular adjustments earned an honorable mention.

Along with Keranen’s first place finish in the non-sports feature story category, Polidori also placed third for her profile on Bobbi Wilsyn.

Photojournalist Mengshin Lin followed Clingenpeel’s first place win in the general news photo category with a second place finish.

Forte and Yetter both received honorable mentions in the feature page design category.

Other Chronicle current and former staffers recognized were K’Von Jackson, Lauren Leazenby and Jonah Ocuto. Earning recognition in multiple categories were Barnes, Calderon, Chavez, Clingenpeel, Devereaux, Forte, Leazenby, Lee, Lin, Polidori and Tolentino.

General Manager Travis Truitt said he was most excited to see 19 different Chronicle students win awards across the various categories.

“To be recognized as the top student news outlet in the state among its peers during this very weird and significant time in history is really gratifying,” Truitt said. “Awards are always a little random and subjective, but this is meaningful because Chronicle students had to really reinvent how they cover and disseminate the news and connect with their audience during the pandemic. The Chronicle staff brought clarity to the campus community during a very confusing and distressing time.”

He said the awards not only reflect the “hard work and dedication of the Chronicle staff—including the often unsung and uncredited work of copy editors and news editors—but also reflects the hard work of the incredible faculty in the Communication Department and across campus teaching our students, especially faculty adviser Curtis Lawrence.”

In October 2020, The Columbia Chronicle won two major awards from the Associated Collegiate Press at the National College Journalism Convention—both the Newspaper Pacemaker and the Online Pacemaker.

The Chronicle also placed first in three College Media Association Pinnacle Awards categories for Best Newspaper Front Page and Best Newspaper Opinion Page/Spread by Tolentino and Best Special Section Cover by former staffer Mike Rundle.

The full list of the Chronicle’s awards through the years can be viewed on the Chronicle’s website.