Tag Archives: Times

#ICMA2017: And Connor Does It Again


Connor Mahan, who repeated as winner of best news photograph in the annual ICMA contest. He is, I assume, texting his family the good news.

Kudos to Connor Mahan, Brooke Woolley and Madison Coates. The MMU students won first-place awards in various categories of the Iowa better newspaper contest announced Feb. 2 at the Iowa College Media Association Convention in Des Moines.

It was interesting that, of the four first-place awards going to the MMU Times, the three that were won by Connor and Brooke all were related to the flood of 2016. Connor was a repeat winner in one category—last year, his photograph of a young boy at the replica of the Vietnam Wall at MMU won best news photograph of the year, and he did it again this year with an image of Father Tony Adawu and an MMU student sandbagging during the September flood.


Winning page, with winning photo and story.

Both Connor and Brooke shared the first-place award for best news story of the year for their jointly written coverage of that flood. And Brooke got best front page for the edition of the Mount Mercy Times reporting on the flood.

In addition, Madison Coates’ staff editorial last school year defending journalism won first place for best editorial leadership.

I had hoped to write several posts about ICMA today—there was a lot of think about from day 1. But, it’s getting late and I’m tired.

So here are just a few notes. Victoria Lim, who does PR for Brandman University, but who until recently was a multimedia PR storyteller for Disney and a multimedia journalist before that, was an excellent ICMA keynote speaker.

I thought her “zoo” idea to demonstrate storytelling was very good. And she made a key point to students, one I’ve often stated, but it’s good to hear someone else make. She asked the students what is the most important skill needed to be a multimedia storyteller. They listed attributes such as imagination and creativity, which she conceded were important.

But to her, the number-one skill is what I tell all communication students their number-one skill has to be: Writing.

“If you can write, you can do content, stories, whatever you call it, on any platform,” Lim noted.

Anyway, here is a list of the awards won by the MMU Times this year:

  • First place, best news photograph, Connor Mahan.
  • First place, best news story, Connor Mahan and Brooke Woolley.
  • First place, best page 1, Brooke Woolley.
  • First place, best opinion/editorial leadership, Madison Coates.
  • Third place, best profile story, Todd Cross.
  • Third place, best headline writing, Bianca Kesselring.
  • Honorable mention, best opinion writing, Billie Barker.
  • Honorable mention, best sports photograph, Sam Techau.

    Job well done, students. More images. And now I’m going to bed.


MMU students Capria Davis, Connor Mahan, Brooke Woolley and Anna Bohr with prizes won by the MMU Times at the ICMA convention in Des Moines.

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A Big Day For The MMU Times

Richard Green, publisher, leads our tour of the new Des Moines Register offices.

Richard Green, publisher, leads our tour of the new Des Moines Register offices.

I will admit that I was getting ready for a letdown. An e-mail had been sent to Mount Mercy’s marketing office earlier this week, listing three students who would win awards at the Iowa College Media Association annual awards ceremony, held tonight, Feb. 6, in Des Moines.

Well, shoot, I thought, when they forwarded the e-mail. Three. We usually get more awards than that. But, I figured, maybe one or two of the students might win two awards, and the staff might be recognized in some category. So, while preparing myself for disappointment in case there was only three awards, I also hoped that maybe we’re really get a few more—five, six or seven awards.

Well. As it turned out, I vastly undershot. We won a record 15 awards, 14 for the newspaper and one for the web site of the Times.

Our Co-Editor, Maddy Jones, won multiple awards in many categories—for writing, photography, headlines. The Editor in Chief of the Times, Thomas Kremer, III; and its Sports Editor, Taylor Foster, also won several awards each.

The paper overall came in third in the General Excellence category, which is rather nice.

The award ceremony came at the end of a long and interesting day, which featured, among other things, a tour of the Des Moines Register’s new offices where the publisher acted as our tour guide, a chance to view the main gubernatorial candidates and several Republicans who are running for the U.S. Senate, to hear from some leading Iowa political reporters and to see some emotionally charged images by a New Orleans photojournalist.

O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa; Michale Wiser, Lee Enterprises; and Kathi Obradovich, Des Moines Register, talk about covering politics in Iowa.

O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa; Michael Wiser, Lee Enterprises; and Kathi Obradovich, Des Moines Register, talk about covering politics in Iowa.

I also ate my first patties at Zombie Burgers. Doubtless, I will be back.

I’m going to write more about ICMA in the future. In particular, I want to ruminate on the tour of the Register, which I found fascinating. For now, here are the MMU Times awards winners:

MMU Times Wins Record 15 ICMA Awards

The Mount Mercy Times won 15 awards, including three first-place awards, seven second-place awards, two third place awards and three honorable mentions at the Iowa College Media Association convention Feb. 6 in Des Moines.

Fourteen of the awards were in the ICMA “Better Newspaper” contest, recognizing the Mount Mercy Times newspaper. The other award was in the Multi-Media competition, which included the Times web site, times.mtmercy.edu.

The 15 awards are by far the most won by Mount Mercy in the annual ICMA media contest. In particular, multiple individual awards were won by Madison Jones, Co-Editor; Taylor Foster, Sports Editor; and TJ Kremer, III, Editor-in-Chief.

The awards are:

  • 1st place, Best News Photo, Taylor Foster.
  • 1st place, Best Feature Photo, Madison Jones.
  • 1st place, Best Profile Story, Madison Jones.
  • 2nd place, Best Editorial Leadership, The Mount Mercy Times editorial board (award for staff editorials).
  • 2nd place, Best Headline Writing, Madison Jones.
  • 2nd place, Best Opinion Writing, Taylor Foster.
  • 2nd place, Best Blog, TJ Kremer, III.
  • 2nd place, Best Coverage of First Amendment Issues, Madison Jones.
  • 2nd place, Best Inside Page Design, Madison Jones.
  • 2nd place, Best Op-Ed Section, The Mount Mercy Times staff, lead writer on section TJ Kremer, III.
  • 3rd place, Best Front Page, The Mount Mercy Times staff.
  • 3rd place, General Excellence, The Mount Mercy Times staff.
  • Honorable Mention, Best Opinion Writing, Madison Jones.
  • Honorable Mention, Best Coverage of First Amendment Issues, TJ Kremer, III.
  • Honorable Mention, Best Sports Story, The Mount Mercy Times staff.
Times staff with 15 awards at ICMA ceremony.

Times staff with 15 awards at ICMA ceremony.


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A Word About Creativity

Art student in Stello

Art student, one of the Times editors, takes photos in Stello Hall in Warde. She hadn’t been in Stello before.

I followed an MMU student around this afternoon as she was taking some photos for the Mount Mercy Times.

She is an art student, and I downloaded her images when she was done. The images are pretty good, they are part of a project that the editors envisioned for the final issue to the Times this semester.

I’m looking forward to the results, and I hope it’s as cool as their ideas.


Student shoots images of MMU campus.

It’s been an interesting week. A strong team has emerged to lead the paper next year, some current staff members, some new, some new to Mount Mercy.

It made me consider, today, where creativity comes from. I can’t say that I know the answer, except that it comes, partly, from new connections, new people, new experiences.

I saw other examples of it earlier this week, at Scholarship Day. I attended two sessions, one a presentation by communication students about “Greenwashing,” and the next a reading of elections from “Paha,” the Mount Mercy annual literary magazine.

Mount Mercy speeches

Three MMU communication students–Enrique, Jennifer and Ryan–speak about Greenwashing, marketing that claims environmental benefits.

Where do all their ideas come from? For the most part, it seemed they came from experience. Students took their own understanding of their own experiences and somehow created them anew.

Today, I saw a presentation of video that was spliced together in creative layers, a combination of old movie clips in some new forms.

I am not sure I could explain it or make total sense of it, but it was cool.

It was like watching an art student intent on her photography. And knowing something creative is going on.

Grotto flowers.

Flowers in the Grotto, Warde Hall in background. I was shooting a few creative images of MMU, too.


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Where Are They Now?

Times staff

As Ben and Biz confer in the background, Cindy is ready to snap photos at Times open house.

It was fun at the Times today, seeing so many guests in the office.

The student newspaper at Mount Mercy University held an open house today, Oct. 12. Among the attendees—sadly not always at the same time so many of them missed each other—were Times staff members of years past. The MMU graduates include a future novelist who is planning to enter the University of Iowa’s esteemed Writer’s Workshop, the editor of a local community newspaper, and a video/multi-media coordinator of a large local Protestant church.


Emily, at right, was one of the returning MMU grads to the Times open house.

A diverse group, but one thing I think they all have in common was summed up today at the open house by Emily Speight. Emily was the second editor of the weekly Times. When she came to Mount Mercy, she was unsure of joining the paper, but in the end she did, and became its editor.

As she said today, when she is at work and something happens, she sometimes thinks “that reminds me of what happened one time at the Times.” It’s much rarer that she thinks “that reminds me of a time in class when …”

In other words, at least for those who seek to enter media or writing careers, time spent on a student newspaper staff is not the frosting on the cake. It’s the cake, the plate the cake is on, the fork to eat the cake with, the ice cream and chocolate sauce and spoon—plus the cold milk to wash it all down. It’s the most intense formative experience of a young communicator’s early career.

I always tell students—and I mean it seriously even if I don’t believe it’s 100 percent true—that I can predict which students will actually become journalists or public relations professionals.

It’s the ones who step forward and lead the student newspaper.

After all, for PR and journalism students, the MMU Times is “the choir.” It would be just silly to study music at MMU and NOT be in the choir. It would be strange to attempt a Speech-Drama minor and never join the Drama Club.

And young people who are serious about communication careers join the paper. No excuses, no “I’m too busy”—if you have the fire in the belly, no obstacle will keep you away.

Now, the reason I concede this fairly valid general rule is not 100 percent accurate is twofold. First, while merely joining the paper puts a student in a position where she might succeed in a communication career, both luck and determination are also required. Some of the students who do other things besides communication with their lives make rational decisions about the kind of life and career that makes sense to them—and I’m totally on board with that. Yet, I don’t think even those who choose to change career paths regret their Times time, as organizational skills, leadership opportunities, interviewing practice and writing experience help just about any person in any career path.

Secondly, there are other routes. Some talented English majors who avoid the Times and the MMU communication program, for example, end up in the PR or journalism worlds.

But the general rule is accurate enough, and works well enough, that its implications are clear.

Are you a student at MMU? Do you want to be a writer, a real writer, a person who actually makes a career out of creating communications?

Then join the Times. Sure, write for Paha too, get that English degree, act in several plays—the Times is not the only venue that can develop your communication talents.

But, at MMU, and I suspect at most colleges, the student newspaper is the center, the nexus, the crux of the experience for the few who will join that unique band of brothers and sisters—the actual writers. Not the writer-want-to-bes, but the ink-stained wretches who don’t just think it, but do it.

I am reminded of an excellent post by a blogger I respect. She was talking about the writing habit and how important it is to just write if you’re going to write. To sort of paraphrase her point, bus drivers never complain of “driver’s block.” They just get into that big box and go.

Writers? Faced with writer’s block? Climb into the Times and fire up that verbal part of your brain. No hesitation, just the open information highway and you with your hands on the wheel of a media vehicle that can take you were you want to go. Writing? Photography? Video? Audio? Podcast? You decide the route, and you can get there from here.

But only if you join, only if you invest a part of yourself, only if you take the time and make the commitment. The time is now. Get with the Times.


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MMU Times Covers Graduation

Times home page

Times home page with links to stories about MMU graduation, including TV stories.

Check out the Times site for stories about MMU graduation.

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Don’t Be A Log, Get Online And Blog!

The MMU Times swept the blog categories of the recent ICMA contest, which was nice.

We won even though many of our student blogs appear “dead.” That is, when absolutely forced to blog by a mean old professor, some students grudgingly blog now and then, maybe 3 times a semester.

MMU Times Blogs

The MMU Times Blog page. The top middle blog, by Zach D'Amico, won best in Iowa in the ICMA contest.

It’s not enough. Any student who wants to be “a writer” of any capacity has to have more personal thoughts to articulate and share.

WordPress issued a 2011 challenge to its bloggers to try to post every day. I have not taken that challenge—I feel I’m not ready to do that much blogging.

But ,I update this blog at least twice a week, and it’s not the only blog I update, either.

Why is blogging so important? Well, for one thing, we live in a 7-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day communication cycle, and any PR or Journalism or Multi-Media Design student needs to think about working in that kind of “instant update” environment.

Blogging provides students with a URL to share when looking for an internship or job.

Most important, blogging is regular, public writing performance.

So, how should students blog? Ideas:

• Make a time to blog. A regular few minutes each week when you collect your thoughts and share them.
• Write your blog posts in Word and edit them before posting. You are your own web editor.
• Be careful of what you post. You can get sued for libel over a blog, and you are creating a public image of yourself. If you copiously drop the F bomb, you may be positioning yourself as a coarse writer with little respect for the power of that word or it’s appropriate place, for example. I think it’s not only OK, but a good idea to blog about political topics—but that does , again, create a public persona for yourself. If you rant about Sarah Palin, don’t apply for a job at the 2012 Palin Campaign.
• Make it readable. A blog may not be the place to post class assignments, particular if you’re replying to 7 questions that the blog reader does not see, for example. Try to have something to say, and say it in a way that readers would enjoy.

Anyway, that’s all of my wisdom for now. Blogosphere—do you have ideas about either the value of student blogs or rules for student bloggers?

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