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Spectator staff wins big

 The Spectator received three awards last Friday and Saturday at the Georgia College Press Association Institute Conference in Athens, Ga. The newspaper received first place for “General Photography Excellence”, second for “General Advertising Excellence” and third for “Best Website”.

 In addition to these honors, Editor-in-Chief, Amy Johstono, won first place in “Best News Article-Objective” for her “’Freedom Wall’ erected” article from Feb. 25, 2010.
 “(The article) had a good lead and great first quote,” the GCPA judges’ comments said. “(It was) very well done.”

 In addition to receiving awards, some of the staff, including Jessica Green, former photo editor who graduated last December, Molly Duett, opinions editor, Dorsena Drakeford, sports editor and Jennifer Faulconer, multimedia editor, gave the presentation, “Newsroom for the Future,” on Friday. The presentation was from their “The Converged Newsroom” class last semester.

 During the seminar, the team spoke of how The Spectator is making efforts to use the “Web Spectator” and social media more effectively.

  “Right now, I set up the ‘Specs_the_tator’ Twitter account and am working on updating it with information on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Duett said. “Amy (Johstono) is working on making map mash-ups (like one for crime reports) and having links to databases online.”

 The staff attended seminars such as “Interviewing” by former VSU student Ashley Fielding, “Mind the Gap: Typographical Lessons” by Dr. Brian Carroll, a professor at Berry College, “Behind the Bylines: Video Blogging” by the staff of The Colonnade at Georgia College and State University and “Public Safety Reporting” by Adam Crisp from the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Ted Geltner, advisor to The Spectator and English professor, found mingling with reporters and advisors from other schools useful.

 “I think it’s beneficial for our staff to meet journalists from other universities and see that they face the same issues as we do in covering the news,” Geltner said. “We can see where we are succeeding and where we can improve.”

 After hearing the situations of other schools’ newspapers, Cullen Hough, photo editor, was glad for the way the newspaper is.

   “I like the fact we are an independent paper,” Hough said. “We can accurately report on administration without watching our backs.”

    Drakeford gained some insight on how to better her pages.

“I learned that the sports section definitely needs more photos, and I am working to make that happen,” Drakeford said. “Applying it is definitely easier said than done.”
 Amber Smith, features editor, found the seminars helpful towards not only her job at The Spectator, but for the future as well.

 “Most of the workshops were pretty good,” Smith said. “There were a lot of things I learned that I can apply towards The Spectator and beyond, after I move on to other papers. In ‘Interviewing’, there were a lot of things I learned to get better quotes out of sources, better ways to make them more comfortable and make myself more approachable.”
 Geltner anticipates the staff will use what was learned to better the newspaper. 

   “My hope is that the editors learned a lot in Athens and will be able to apply what they’ve learned and take The Spectator up a few notches for the rest of the year,” he said.
 Also in attendance were Desiree Thompson, managing editor, John Pickworth, advertising manager and Dr. Pat Miller, another advisor to The Spectator and English professor, and myself.

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