Note the photo. It’s not a tacky statue at an Iowa Casino, it’s part of a war monument adjacent to the Iowa Capital.
“Welcome home, boys.”
Anyway, as the group photo shows, it was one of the sights at the 2010 Iowa College Media Association Convention, attended by six Mount Mercy students and me Feb. 4 and 5.
The “Mount Mercy Times,” student newspaper of Mount Mercy College, earned eight awards this year (nine if you count one our new news editor, Cindy, won for her Kirkwood journalism). Quite a haul that will cover more of our office “awards wall.” It is double our haul from last year, a respectable showing. I’m typing at home and the certificates are in my office, so I can’t list the awards here—but I’m sure we’ll post them on the newspaper (times.mtmercy.edu) and our Mount Mercy Times Facebook page soon.
The awards put us third in the sweepstakes to be named best Iowa college newspaper of the year, a title won by Grandview University’s paper this year. The Loras College paper was second. Congratulations to both, hope we beat you next year :0. Third is out of 11 who entered contests, by the way, so it is a respectable showing.
So, what were my impressions of the conference?
- Facebook makes instant video, audio and text communication way easy. Photos from the conference (ones on this blog are via Facebook and are borrowed from Cindy Petersen and Brian Heinemann, neither of whom, I hope, would sue me) were uploaded while we drove around Des Moines via cell phones and Blackberrys. Students were iffy about whether they wanted to visit the war memorial near the state Capitol until they saw it, then were willing to risk life and limb trudging up snow-covered slopes and stairs for a closer look. Go figure. (Or what a figure?)
- Sooner or later, Times staff members will figure out that most Times computers have web cams, too. What are the potential results? Here is a link to some fun Wartburg students had: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEUh14_jLbQ
- Sweet potatoes are either inexpensive or elegant or both. Every ‘fancy’ meal at ICMA featured sweet potatoes. What sweet potato-growing region is the chef at the Des Moines Marriott from?
- The giant tower of rust—a.k.a. the Ruan Center—does not grow more charming year by year. Some downtown Des Moines building are interesting, ones that appear to have been built in the 1920s or 1930s or earlier, with lions or sea horses incorporated into second or third flood motifs and that look like they have unique character from the skywalk. But what was the architect of the Ruan Center thinking? “Paint it? Hell no. In 30 years, all will admire its rust-belt reddish orange color and think, how cool.” Or, perhaps, how junkyard. In some ways, I wish Mount Mercy had undergone a growth spurt about 1937 or so—whatever buildings had been added would be slightly whimsical and feature buttresses or gargoyles. In architecture, at least, imagination for commercial or educational structures seems to have been shocked out of the world by World War II.
The MMC Times is on a good trajectory. Three points to continue our awards growth: 1) Keep the basics going—good writing, particularly feature, opinion and sports writing—have to be emphasized. 2) Improve photography. We need news, sports and feature photos, as well as portfolios, to submit. And 3) Continue to jazz up the web. We were number two last year, did not get recognized this year even though our web master has done great upgrades. The standards on the web are changing quickly. We need more bling (and by bling I don’t just mean flash or sparkle, more substance, too).
Anyway, as usual, it was an enjoyable trip. Thanks to the INA for hosting ICMA. Congratulations to all the Times staffers whose efforts helped earn this year’s awards.