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Standley Lake journalists sweep Reporter and Designer awards

First year of awards honoring print journalism highlight excellence of two juniors on the staff of 'The Lake'

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Standley Lake journalists sweep Reporter and Designer awards

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CSMA Reporter of the Year 2016

1st Place – Emily Leo / Standley Lake HS
2nd Place – Emily Klein / Rock Canyon HS
3rd Place – Jacob Morris / Brighton HS
Honorable Mention – Alicia Topolnycky / Grandview HS

Judging notes from judge Lesley Kennedy, executive editor of Denver Life magazine and former assistant features editor
of The Rocky Mountain News

Emily Leo, Standley Lake HS
Overall comments: Emily’s entries display solid reporting skills and a nice mix of student, expert and community sources, plus statistics and researched material. She paints a scene well (shows, rather than tells) and has her own voice that I hope she will continue to develop.

Her news story on breeding violence was well-written, with good statistics mixed with expert and student sources. She did a nice job taking on a difficult subject, but one that’s extremely important not only to students; but one students should care about, as well. Great work!

I found the diner piece to be very interesting and thoughtful. The intro is excellent — great scene-setting and imagery and a nice voice, too! I love that she and her team took inspiration from the Humans of New York series — it’s such a simple concept, but, when done correctly, it’s one that gives readers really interesting slices of life. I also love that you made several trips to get the stories you were hoping for — reporting takes time and persistence and it’s very impressive that you already realize that!

The generations story stemmed from a fun idea, and she did a great job interviewing lots of different people. Nice quotes, transitions, writing and packaging.

Emily’s reporting portfolio can be found here.

 

Emily Klein, Rock Canyon
Overall comments: Emily’s entries prove that she is a solid reporter with a nice writing style and an ear for good stories and quotes. She has shown she can write hard news, react to the news and deliver thoughtful personality profiles. In future pieces, I would love to see her go a few steps further, especially in the profile pieces, and interview teachers, friends, parents, etc. to give a more well-rounded look at the person being featured.

Her news story on vouchers was well-reported, clear and concise; this is solid news story that does a good job of explaining a rather complicated topic.
The profile on the swimmer was very nicely written, with a good use of quotes and nice details. If she had interviewed her coach, mom or friends for a little more insight into what her life is like, it would have been even stronger.

Paris: This story had a very nice lede and kudos for finding an angle that tied in this huge global story to her own school. Adding the school clubs and their response was very smart. Overall, solidly reported, nice quotes and transitions. Well done!

Lucy was another excellent profile — nice story structure, good choice of quotes and nice details (rides her Frozen scooter, loves avocados, etc.). Nice ending quote, as well.

Emily’s reporting portfolio can be found here.

 

Jacob Morris, Brighton HS
Jacob has demonstrated that he is a fine writer, a good reporter and a creative streak that I hope he continues to develop. To take his reporting to the next level, I would encourage him to dig a little deeper and add a few more sources and specific anecdotes to his stories. Rounding out his reporting will make his stories that much more interesting.

Costa Rica: This is a good example of a story that needed specifics. While the writing is good, the captions, in some cases, actually offered more details about the trip than the main bar. Like, what really happened on that crazy rafting trip — how scared were they? For a story like this, I’d rather read three very specific experiences than just an overall “this is a great thing” from the teachers piece.

Split schedule: I loved reading all of these mini profiles — each containing great details and offering a slice of life into the lives of these students and how they’re reacting to school, jobs and sports. Loved it.

Lockdown situation: I loved this package, too. It was so interesting and Jacob included the perfect mix of sources to describe a scary situation. Excellent.

Navy Seals: Nice writing, good details; great captions and the sidebar (which is obviously a repeated device — and one I love — used throughout the newspaper) is a nice addition. Great job.

Spanish teacher: I love the concept and that the story was run in English and Jacob worked with the teacher to translate it into Spanish. Creative and interesting. However, the profile itself is a little weak—where are the quotes? Where is info from her peers or students? Had he added more flavor into this piece it would have been a slam dunk.

Jacob’s reporting portfolio can be found here.

 

Honorable Mention: Alicia Topolnycky, Grandview HS
Overall comments: Alicia is a nice writer with a good grasp of feature writing. She includes interesting details, chooses strong quotes and does a fine job with story structure and transitions. To improve her writing, I’d love to see her work on more behind-the-scenes reporting and digging a little deeper to give readers a more unique take on her topics.

The Secret Garden: This story is well structured and includes nice quotes—it just doesn’t really explore anything new. I wish Alicia had spent some time with the cast as they were preparing for the play or even just on opening night. A more behind the scenes look at the play coming together would have really grabbed the reader.

Mallory/Yongmei: Nice profile of Mallory — Alicia did a good job getting her to open up about her dad, etc. I wish she had done a little more reporting on Yongmei — the lede says English is not her first language, but it never says where she came from, what her first language is, etc. Also, would have been nice to get some supporting quotes for both artists from teachers, friends, parents, siblings, etc.!

Band Together: Fun lede! And I love the anecdote about her playing Mom’s clarinet. Good quotes, nice transitions and reporting. Overall, a very nice feature.

Alphabet Soup: Standardized testing is a confusing topic for sure — and an important one for high school publications — but this didn’t really make it any less confusing, at least for me. Kudos, though, for attempting to tackle a tough story.

You can find Alicia’s reporting portfolio here.

 

CSMA Designer of the Year

1st Place – Megan Metzger-Seymour / Standley Lake HS
2nd Place – Lauren Fernandez / Cheyenne Mountain HS
3rd Place – Faith Fyles / Arapahoe HS
Honorable Mention – Carson Bonino / Brighton HS
Honorable Mention – Avery Martin / Rocky Mountain HS

Comments from judge Sara Kennedy, Special Publications Editor, The Seattle Times:

The winning designers have a clear understanding of the fundamentals of publication design. They use dominant elements (type and/or images) to guide readers through the page, they find balance in copy and graphic elements, and they have concern for legibility.

The best entries went a step beyond that to inject personality and a liveliness that draws in readers and keeps them there. This is not to say the designs are (or should be) “silly” or “funny” — just that they have a sense of care in them and an eye for adding beauty to the page. In a time when print design is becoming a lost art, it’s wonderful to see respect being given to this great medium, and risks being taken to push the form.

There are some areas to improve upon. Many entries were over designed, with too many elements, too many competing fonts and too many tiny images. Pick your best elements and edit, edit, edit. Also, the most important thing everyone can do is reassess their body copy styles. Look at a beautifully printed book and consider the care that went into choosing the font, leading, indents, even the drop caps. It may not be the flashiest part of the page, but it can be the key thing that drives a reader away if done badly. Create a fundamentally good page and you can grow and grow from there.

See the design portfolio of 1st place winner Megan Metzger-Seymour, from Standley Lake HS, here.

See the design portfolio of 2nd place winner Lauren Fernandez, of Cheyenne Mountain HS, here.

See the design portfolio of 3rd place winner Faith Fyles, from Arapahoe HS, here.

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Standley Lake journalists sweep Reporter and Designer awards