The Eagle captures third straight best newspaper title

Several rows of awards, including The Eagle's "Best in Overall Excellence" honor, lie on a table Monday morning. The Eagle captured "Best in Overall Excellence" in 2013 for the third consectutive year. –Photo by T.J. Thomson

Several rows of awards, including The Eagle’s “Best in Overall Excellence” honor, lie on a table Monday morning. The Eagle captured “Best in Overall Excellence” in 2013 for the third consectutive year. –Photo by T.J. Thomson

For the third consecutive year, The Eagle, the voice of Chadron State College since 1920, captured “Best in Overall Excellence” in the Newspaper Division of the Nebraska Collegiate Media Association’s Golden Leaf Awards. The victory came Saturday at the association’s annual conference, hosted this year by Doane College, Crete.

“Wow. I think it is fantastic,” said Michael D. Kennedy, journalism instructor and adviser of The Eagle. “The professionals who judge the Golden Leaf Awards are top-shelf journalists, advertising specialists and cartoonists. For The Eagle’s staff members to earn that title for the third year in a row simply underscores and punctuates the high standard of journalistic excellence they practice to deliver their readers a quality newspaper.”

The Eagle’s Executive Editor T.J. Thomson, 22, senior of Golden, Colo., earned six first-place awards in writing, layout and design, and photography categories, including the categories of Hard News/Spot News Reporting (where he also finished second); In-depth/Investigative Reporting; Feature Photograph, and Page-One Layout and Design. Thomson also earned three seconds, one third and four honorable mentions.

“I might have been blessed with these talents and skills,” Thomson said, “but it was the comm arts (communication arts department) faculty who recognized, nurtured, and supported their growth and development,” Thomson said.

Thomson, who graduates Saturday, May 4, also credited The Eagle’s staff with his and everyone’s individual success.

“My fellow staff members have pushed me toward excellence and have taught me a great number of life’s lessons. I wouldn’t be where I am without everyone’s dedication and encouragement,” Thomson said. “My accomplishments, in fact, everyone’s accomplishments, are linked to the quality of our team. We all learn from each other and succeed because of each member’s individual contributions.”

The Eagle’s Lifestyles Editor Sara Labor, 22, junior of Hot Springs, S.D., took first place in Review writing and first place in Headline Writing. Advertising Director Kristina Harter, 22, senior of Colorado Springs, Colo., captured first and second in Advertisement Design.

The Eagle’s staff also captured first in the Overall Layout & Design (complete newspaper) category.

Photo Editor Ashley Swanson, 20, junior of Byron, took second place, behind Thomson’s first, in the Feature Photograph category, and she earned an honorable mention in the News Photograph category.

Reporter Hannah Clark, 19, junior of Littleton, Colo., took third place in Feature Writing, while photographer Jennifer Parker, 18, freshman of Arvada, Colo., captured third in the Sports Photograph, and an honorable mention in the Feature photograph categories respectively.

Robert “Spike” Jordan, 25, sophomore of Harrison, earned an honorable mention in the Opinion Writing category.

“I am incredibly pleased with the variety of winners,” Thomson said. “There have been years when two or three staff members carried the overall win. But this year, the wins were much more evenly divided among the staff, which is a tribute to everyone’s talent and dedication.”

Kennedy concurred with Thomson’s observations.

“Clearly, the long hours of hard work, week in and week out, for 28 weeks each academic year, has once again paid off for these dedicated student journalists,” Kennedy said. “They are selfless individuals who hold each other to the highest standards of our profession. I could not be more proud of them, individually and collectively.”

The NCMA is composed of eight, two-year and four-year colleges across Nebraska. In the Newspaper Division, media students from those eight schools compete for first, second and third places in 19 categories. A student earns five points for his or her newspaper paper for winning first, three points for finishing second and one point for finishing third. The points students earn in the individual categories are awarded to their respective newspapers, and the newspaper with the most points earns the best overall title. The NCMA only recognizes the top three places in its “Best in Overall Excellence” category.

Judges may award up to two honorable mentions in each category, but honorable mentions do not carry any points toward the best overall title. Among the 19 categories there are 95 individual awards, including honorable mentions.

The Eagle’s staff members captured 27 individual honors – 10 first places, six second places, three third places, and eight honorable mentions – and tallied 71 points toward its third straight “Best in Overall Excellence” title.

Media students from The Doane Owl, Doane College, captured 11 individual awards – two first places, six seconds, two thirds and one honorable mention – to finish second in the best overall category with 30 points. The Collegian, Hastings College, earned 12 individual awards – three first places, three seconds, four thirds and two honorable mentions – finish third with 28 points.

Rounding out the field were The Wayne Stater, Wayne State College, with 18 individual awards – two first places, three seconds, five thirds and eight honorable mentions – totaling 24 points; Peru State Times, Peru State College, earned two individual awards and five points; The Viewpoint, Northeast Community College, Norfolk, won seven awards and earned four points; The Reveille, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, won two individual awards worth three points. The Spectator, Western Nebraska Community College, Scottsbluff, a perennial competitor, did not enter this year’s contest.

Judges for the NCMA’s Newspaper Division are journalists and media professionals from newspapers and media companies in six states, including The Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska; The Kansas City Star., Missouri; The Rapid City Journal, and Robert Sharp & Associates, also Rapid City, S.D.; Bloom Publishing, Las Vegas; the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyo.; the Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.; and the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne. Freelance cartoonist Alan Vitello of Denver judged the division’s Cartoon category.

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