Student Media wins GCPA awards

Sarah Ryniker

This past weekend, Georgia Southern University’s Student Media placed in 13 different categories at the Georgia College Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest in Athens, Ga.

Student Media won six first-place, five second-place and two third-place awards: first place in Best Photo Essay, Best Campus Community Service—Editorial, Best Column, Best Sports Photo, Best News Photo and Best Sports Story; second for Best Campus Community Service— Sports, General Advertising, General Photography, Best Editorial or Editorial Series and General Excellence; third for Layout and Design and Best Website.

“I am so proud of Student Media for all of the different categories we placed in, but I couldn’t be more proud for our wins in website design and advertising,” The George-Anne Editor-in-Chief and junior writing and linguistics major Arielle Coambes said.

The George-Anne placed second in General Excellence, a category the organization did not qualify for last year, News Editor and junior multimedia communications major Lindsay Gaskins said.

“It puts us at number two in the entire state of Georgia. Of course we strive for number one, but for this year, that is very good,” Coambes said.

“I was surprised at the awards we did get. I definitely think we should strive for more always,” The George-Anne Managing Editor and junior journalism major Jessie Reese said. “I’m very proud of the staff and what we have accomplished so far.”

Last year, Coambes was president of GCPA, and this year she nominated two of The George-Anne editors who received positions on the board for this upcoming year. Members of GCPA voted Reese as vice president and Gaskins onto the Board of Directors.

“I am so proud to have served this year, a year of fighting the good fight for student journalists across the state. Hopefully the next president will have the same pleasure,” Coambes, as president of GCPA, said.

“I was nominated for vice president of the Georgia College Press Association and was elected after running unopposed. I have to step in if the president cannot fulfill his duties, help in the event coordination and I design and put together a bi-annual newsletter written by board members,” Reese said.

“I was elected among my peers to be a representative on the Board of Directors for the GCPA. It’s a great opportunity, and it is a great way to network with other peers and professionals from around the state,” Gaskins said.

“I’m part of the voice of GCPA, and I will be a part of the event planning and the choice of what speakers will attend. I have to write a column in the bi-annual newsletter as well,” Gaskins said.

This year the GCPA partnered with the Georgia Press Association, which provided more opportunities for networking, Reese said.

“GCPA is a group of student journalists who get together a few times a year to network and share ideas. It’s a way to connect with people who do the same thing you do, who are looking for the same jobs you are,” Reese said.

Speakers from major news outlets came to speak and advise conference attendees, and the quality of the presenters continues to improve each year, Gaskins said.

“We attended classes to talk with both professionals in the field and other student journalists about problems they might have in the newsroom, story ideas and how to grow your staff,” Reese said.

“Working with professionals in the field is so fantastic because you learn so much from them. They are always willing to help student journalists,” Coambes said.

Topics featured in the classes were varied, from social media to design to the Open Records Act, but the environment the classes were presented in was very open, Gaskins said.

“You could go in and bring up problems you had and talk to the board about it. Some classes were lecture, but many were round table, which gave you the chance to converse with professionals,” Reese said.

“It’s important to realize that we are a college paper, and we can do things one day and the next say, ‘oh, that didn’t work.’ It’s about branching out,” Reese said.

The George-Anne is really excited to see what the future holds for student media, because it has grown so much already, Gaskins said.

“If the paper continues on the road they are on, it will keep growing. Awards do not matter,” Coambes said. “It is the growth of Student Media that matters the most.”