On October 14th, Courier writers, editors, and photographers participated in journalism workshops and competed in on-the-spot competitions, as they took home awards in both on the spot and mail-in contests in various categories at the Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC) SoCal Regionals at Cal State Fullerton.
College newspapers from all across the Southland, including Mt. San Antonio (Mt. SAC) and Citrus College, gathered in the Titan Student Union Pavilion for what would be a day of discussion, learning and journalism in action.
With white name tags pinned on every person’s shirt, along with their respective colleges, journalism students sat at the round tables and prepared for the conference to start. Some were typing away on their computers or tablets and others simply chatted amongst one another.
After opening statements, the first speaker took the stage, which was former New York Times editor Walter Baranger, as he walked the audience through his history in the news business, which had its start right there at Cal State Fullerton. Some of the students scribbled down notes and others were tapping away quickly on their keyboards, as his presentation was the content of focus for the On the Spot News and Opinion competitions.
Photographers were able to compete in one On the Spot contest, which was “News Photo”. Others contests held on the campus were Copy Editing and Critical Review which took place at various times in the day, mostly in the early afternoon. For the Courier, a few new writers partook in their first JACC conference, as well as competitions. One of them was new writer and Assistant Lifestyle editor Samantha Villa.
“My first experience was really nerve wrecking and I felt like I was going to throw up every minute,” said Villa. “But it was a great bonding experience with the reporters and also competing for the first time was a lot of fun.”
Besides competitions, all attendees were able to participate in special workshops that dealt with various topics and issues pertaining to the journalism world. These included bilingualist reporting, how to cover the LGBTQ+ community, and a photojournalism ethics workshop led by the Courier’s photojournalist advisor Tim Berger.
For second semester Courier staff writer Bryan Hernandez, this was his first JACC as well, and though he did not compete, he expressed how he still gained a lot from the conference.
“Although I didn’t compete, I was able to go to workshops and get some great pointers on how to report,” said Hernandez. “I hope to bring something new [to my writing] each week”.
The awards ceremony closed out the day, first with announcing mail-in categories and then the on the spot categories. The Courier placed in a good amount of the competitions, including a 1st place win for Editor-in-Chief Amber Lipsey’s Tomi Lahren piece for Column Writing. Others included an Honorable Mention for first semester writer and Assistant News editor Amanda Nelson for News Writing and multiple awards for sports photo and photo stories for Photo editor and Multimedia Manager Michael Watkins.
Lipsey, who is also the JACC Socal Regional President, felt that the event went well.
“I thought it was one of the best [JACC conferences] I’ve been to, I was very happy with the way that it went,” she said. “I was very proud of our staff for all the awards they won.”
With 2017 Regionals now under the Courier’s belt, the State Conference and competition in March 2018 is something the staff looks forward to. Lipsey felt that she plays a pretty important part in that.
“I want to lead by example,” she said. “In that I’m available as I can be to get the staff ready to go.”