Feb. 3, Times students with ICMA awards: Biz Brumm, Campus Editor; Ryan Pleggenkuhle, Managing Editor; Jennifer Koenighain, Design Editor; Erich Pilcher, Multi-Media Producer; Jason Novak, Sports Editor and Cynthia Petersen, Editor-in-chief.
Or, an even dozen, if you count the headline-writing award a staff member earned while he was at Kirkwood.
Anyway, the ICMA award ceremony Feb. 3 in Des Moines during the annual Iowa College Media Association Convention, hosted by the Iowa Newspaper Association at their convention, turned out to be a good night for the Times. The Mount Mercy University students won 11 awards in the ICMA Better Newspaper contest, which I think is a record for the Times.
The Grand View Views won best newspaper overall in a point-based contest that relies on the category awards, but I think if we improve next year, we may have a shot at that award, too.
Anyway, here are awards the Times won:
First Place, Best Editorial Leadership for staff editorials.
First Place, Best Blog, by Zach D’Amico.
First Place, Best Explanatory/Interpretive News Story, by Cynthia Petersen.
First Place, Best Opinion Writing, by Zach D’Amico.
Second Place, Best Profile Story, by Brian Heinemann.
Second Place, Best Review, by Erich Pilcher.
Second Place, Best Blog, by Cynthia Petersen.
Third Place, Best Sports Feature, by Brian Heinemann.
Third Place, Best Opinion Writing, by Cynthia Petersen.
Third Place, Best Blog, by Ivory Davis.
Honorable Mention, Best Review, by Brian Heinemann.
D’Amico wrote a column last fall about his father’s deteriorating health. Sadly, his father passed on this January, but D’Amico’s column, and his blog, were both judged the best student newspaper writing in the state of Iowa in their respective categories by ICMA. “Good work” seems like a bittersweet sentiment under the circumstance, but is none-the-less true. D’Amico did outstanding writing as a staff writer, and we’re glad he’s joining our staff on a more regular basis as a Special Correspondent this spring.
Heinemann and Petersen are last year’s and this year’s editors-in-chief of the Times. Pilcher is our multi-media executive producer, and should be key to our efforts this spring to beef up our web site.
By the way, this year’s managing editor, Ryan Pleggenkuhle, earned a headline writing award for the Communiqué at Kirkwood. We’re glad to have Ryan at MMU this year. Ryan won third place for best sports headline.
I’m a little surprised that certain other stories did not earn any awards, and we received no recognition at all for page design. I’ve seen other Iowa college newspapers, and I’m not sure why that’s true, except that maybe they’ve done a few special pages that stand out.
But, that’s looking back. What’s the message looking ahead?
I’m hoping we can make more progress this spring semester and next year on one of our ongoing issues—a need to improve photography. Images are very important—and, I think photo skills display a visual sense that most journalists need these days. Yes, I think there will always be a place for great writers, but a writer who can craft good layouts, shoot decent video, design both print and web pages and shoot compelling still pictures—well, that generalist, whether she ends up in journalism or PR, has more of a future in our evolving communication environment.
That’s the message, kids. Don’t be good at just one thing—you have to be a triple or quadruple threat.
The other takeaway, for me, is that we must fix the sorry state of our newspaper web site and do more multi-media reporting.
But, note the blog near sweep of all the awards. The ICMA judge wrote “pay attention to what the ‘Mount Mercy Times’ is doing with blogs.” We did very well in the fall, which earned us the ICMA honors, and now we have to energize and keep up the good blog work—and promote the blogs.
That and our continued excellence in editorial commentary are points to be proud of.
Eleven is a nice number of awards—more than most (or, possibly, all but one) other newspapers earned. Good work, Times staff present and past.