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Student Vanguard Staff Hone Skills, Win 22 Journalism Awards

Justin Clarke and Nathanie

Student Vanguard Managing Editor Justin Clarke, left, and faculty advisor Nathaniel House

Nathaniel House, an assistant professor in the English department, became faculty advisor for the student newspaper in January 2011. He recruited a staff consisting of four prolific writers. The fledgling journalists had two weeks to produce their first newspaper.

Editor-in-Chief Paul Eberle recalls that first edition with mixed emotions. “While it was not as good as we would like, it was amazing that we got it done in two weeks,” he said. “We really did not know anything going in.”

The student journalists honed their craft and improved with each edition. What happened next is nothing short of remarkable. The leadership team steered the Student Vanguard to 22 journalism awards in 2011–2012 and now they plan to make the newspaper even better in the coming academic year. “I think it will be tough to top the number of awards for last year, but we are going to try,” said Justin Clarke, the paper’s managing editor.

With guidance from House, the Student Vanguard staff captured 14 of the 2012 Student Keystone Press Awards for two-year colleges sponsored by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association  and eight Region One Mark of Excellence Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for two-year colleges. It is an impressive record for a student newspaper staff that had little prior experience in journalism.

At the Keystone Awards:

  • Former Editor-in-Chief Bob Stewart won First Place in General News, Sports Story, Editorial, and Review; Second Place for Public Service/Enterprise Package; and Honorable Mentions in the Column and Photo Story categories. He covered stories ranging from the demise of the Spring Garden bookstore to learning how to access the College’s Wi-Fi.
  • Current Editor-in-Chief Paul Eberle captured First Place for Feature Story and Sports Photo; Second Place for Sports Story and Sports Photo; and Honorable Mentions for Sports Photo and Feature Photo. The appetizing headline on his winning feature story? “Mmmmm, Beeer”

At the SPJ Region 1 Mark Excellence Awards:

  • Eberle won First Place for Sports Column Writing, Photo Illustration (a type of computer art that begins with a digitized photograph) and Sports Writing; Second Place for Breaking News Reporting and Sports Writing and Third Place for In-Depth Reporting.
  • Stewart won Second Place for General News Reporting, and Third Place in Sports Writing.
  • Clarke won Second Place for In-Depth Reporting.

“Their mandate was to take this opportunity to create a product that would make the entire College proud and they really succeeded,” House said, pointing to the numerous award certificates taped to the door of the paper’s office in the Winnet Student Life Building.

He added, “I feel really honored to work with such a dedicated and kind group of people.” Tanya Hubbard, Geraldine Barnes and Helen Massele were among the other major contributing members to the 2011–2012 Student Vanguard crew.

In the coming months, Clarke, 27, will give priority to raising the profile of the Student Vanguard’s website by adding video content to increase the number of visits to the site.

“Students, more than anyone else, should read the Student Vanguard because the content we publish is specifically for them,” Clarke said. “I can’t even count the number of times I’ve overheard a student asking about an issue that they heard of in passing. Usually, an issue we’ve just recently written about in detail and published in the school paper.”