Indy earns awards

Online, print, and bilingual editions gain recognition at national conference      



2017 Independent staff group photo

Staff from the 2017 Independent. Photo: Dee Anne Finken/Clark College

Clark College student journalists brought home first- and fourth-place honors from the annual Associated Collegiate Press’ midwinter conference, held March 2-5 in San Francisco.

The Clark College Independent website outpaced 14 other two- and four-year colleges to win first place in the large-school online news category. The print edition of the Indy (to use its nickname) finished fourth from among 12 entries from community colleges.

Editor-in-chief Ieva Braciulyte said the Indy’s success in the competition felt rewarding. But she also said she and the 11 members of her staff who traveled to San Francisco valued attending the workshops and meeting other student journalists. “It was so exciting to network and get to know the struggles of other newsrooms and how they problem-solve.”

Braciulyte said she also appreciated support from the Associated Students of Clark College, which funded the trip.

“I know the conference inspired and educated our editors,” Braciulyte said. “That will get passed down to next quarter’s staff and benefit the newsroom for a long time.”

Students from 84 colleges and universities attended more than 100 conference workshops, presented largely by media professionals and journalism faculty from colleges and universities across the country. Topics included things like newsroom leadership, photography, investigative reporting, interviewing, social media, and dealing with controversial stories.

Clark students Marvin Peña and Diana Aristizabal, who produce the Independent’s Spanish-language insert, Mundo Clark, also presented a workshop. “Can You Hear Me Now? Creating New Media Outlets” detailed their efforts to create Mundo.

Peña, who is from Venezuela, has been a member of the Independent staff for three years. He and Aristizabal, who is from Colombia, created Mundo last year as a means for bridging cultures at Clark.

Peña said he appreciated the chance to explain his work to an audience of other college students. “It was challenging because it was my first time presenting on this level,” Peña said. “But it was inspiring because I got to inspire people, and get feedback from other students working on new projects.”

The Independent staff publishes a print edition every three weeks and updates the online edition regularly at The award-winning website was designed in 2014 by then-student Lisa Presley.

Presley, who is now studying psychology and human development at Washington State University Vancouver, said the creation of the website was a laborious process between her, then-editor-in-chief Zach McMahon and Independent advisor Dee Anne Finken.

“We wanted to improve on the look and make it user-friendly,” Presley said. “We also wanted it to still have a newspaper look with the text columns, and we worked with the Disabilities Services office to make it accessible… It’s kind of my baby.”

The ACP is the nation’s oldest and largest membership organization for student journalists, said executive director Laura Widmer.

This article contributed by journalism professor Dee Anne Finken.