Students from a variety of colleges in the Nebraska area network at the Golden Leaf Awards, hosted by Concordia this year. Photo by Morgan Consier.
By Victoria Cameron
Concordia hosted the 2019 Northern Plains Collegiate Media Association Spring Conference and Golden Leaf Awards Luncheon on April 13, where the Sower won 12 awards.
The NPCMA is comprised of six schools: Chadron State College, Doane University, Peru State College, Wayne State College, University of Nebraska-Kearney, and Concordia University. Chadron traveled the farthest, arriving a night early for the conference.
Speakers for the conference included Omaha World-Herald reporter Henry Cordes, Norfolk Daily News assistant city editor and education reporter Emily Case, Nebraska Press Association sales and marketing manager Violet Spader Kirk, and Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame member Kathleen Rutledge.
Cordes spoke on how to be a versatile reporter. He said that all stories are essentially the same, no matter the content, in that it is a reporter’s job to present accurate facts in a narrative way by distilling complex content and making it readable. He recommended both reading and writing as much as possible to every potential reporter.
Case described her recent experience with how the Daily News staff rallied together to cover the Nebraska flooding. Providing up-to-date news was challenging because Case and her co-workers were affected by the flooding just as much as the people they were covering. Case emphasized that the staff leaned on each other and other newspapers to keep calm and focused throughout their work.
Kirk spoke about the NPA which represents both state and national newspapers. Kirk is a Concordia alumna (2008) and credited her experience at the Sower for preparing her for a journalism job.
Rutledge was the luncheon speaker, and the last speaker before the Golden Leaf Awards. She reflected on the importance of how journalists can serve the people as our country and culture continues to change.
“When you see what’s going on today in journalism, you can see how democracy can start to falter when people aren’t sure that they can get reliable information,” Rutledge said.
Rutledge also commented on the importance of verification and being an active listener in interviews.
“You’re a better journalist if you’re a little uppity, I guess,” Rutledge said. “Don’t be afraid to think for yourself and ask questions.”
Rutledge ended by noting that verification is what sets journalism apart from fiction, entertainment and propaganda.
The NPCMA provided an update on its efforts with the Student Protection Journalism Act, also called New Voices, and then the Golden Leaf Awards were presented. The Sower won 12 of them.
Individual awards went to Chief Copy Editor senior April Bayer, photographer freshman Laura VonKampen, photographer senior Garion Consier, reporter junior Nicholas Boys, Managing Editor senior Morgan Consier, and copy editor freshman Paige Uzzell.
Four of those awards were for second place. Bayer’s “Arm Me with Courage” was for Best Column, and Boys’ “Bulldog at Heart: CUNE Alumnus Ceron Francisco Sets Sights on Olympics” was for Best Sports Feature Story.
Morgan Consier placed third in Best Arts and Entertainment Story with “‘Anne Frank’ Cast Speaks About the Story Behind the Play” and Uzzell placed third in Best Investigative Story with “Founders: What’s Inside?”.
Additionally, the Sower collectively won six awards, including first place Best Social Media Presence, second place Best News Package, third place Best Social Media Main Page, third place Best Overall Website, third place Best Online Home Page, and third place Best Overall Design.
The Sower continues to strive for the highest standards of professional and ethical reporting.
“It’s important that we tell people what’s going on in our communities, nation and world, and that we do so by following the professional ethical standards for accuracy, objectivity, fairness and responsibility,” Assistant Professor of Journalism and Political Science Tobin Beck said in a note to conference attendees. “We have a responsibility, a challenge and an opportunity to provide people with news that they will use to make decisions in their own lives.”