The staff of the USF Encounter, the student-led magazine at the University of St. Francis, headed to Chicago this past weekend to attend the Illinois College Press Association conference (ICPA). The two-day conference consisted of multiple journalism-based sessions where students learned from industry professionals, bonded as a team, met other college staff writers and collected awards from the previous year’s newspapers or magazines.
According to the schedule given to attendees, the first day began with registration and a keynote presentation. Daily Herald editor John Lampinen and deputy managing editor Pete Nenni, both award-winning newspaper veterans, “provided some answers with concrete illustrations that also posed a few questions concerning ‘fake news.' "
Other sessions during the first day included but were not limited to “Block Club Chicago” reporters Kelly Bauer, Mina Bloom and Mauricio Pena.
Block Club Chicago, according to their website, is a “non-profit, digital-first news organization dedicated to delivering reliable, nonpartisan and essential coverage of Chicago's diverse neighborhoods.” The reporters discussed how college newspapers can use social media and the internet to find great local stories, connect with readers and “make waves” online.
Chandler Kowaliczko, entertainment editor for the USF Encounter said, “The reporters from Block Club Chicago were actually really interesting. Social media is an obvious part of making sure a newspaper or magazine does well. However, they made some great suggestions about how social media can actually help you localize a story, which is something we focus on the USF Encounter’s website.”
On the second day of the conference, students had the opportunity to meet with people such as Tom McNamee, the editorial page editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. McNamee discussed how to organize and write an opinion piece, including editorials and personal columns. The USF Encounter has recently incorporated personal columns into their February edition.
“Having almost our entire staff attend ICPA this year was great! We all learned more about our specific roles within the paper and how to improve as a whole,” said current editor-in-chief for the USF Encounter, Katie Wozniak.
The conference ended with a luncheon and the awards were presented, capping a 1 ½- day convention at the Doubletree Hotel Magnificent Mile in Chicago. The USF Encounter was given second place awards for “Sports Page Design, Non-Dailies Under 4,000” as well as an honorable mention in “General Excellence.”
“Walking away from the conference with awards was such a great feeling! Winning an award in ‘General Excellence’ was a great reminder that our news magazine is recognized even amongst the top college newspapers in Illinois,” said Katie Wozniak.
31 Illinois university newspapers attended and submitted more than 1,000 entries for competition, including the Columbia Chronicle, the Daily Illini and the Daily Egyptian.
Entries are split up by publication frequency and overall student enrollment. The USF Encounter falls under non-daily publication with enrollment under 4,000.
According to the ICPA website, membership for the ICPA is open to all four-year colleges in Illinois. Member schools may nominate their journalists for awards in 29 different categories each year, and are eligible to have members of their staffs attend the conference.
None of the awards would have been earned without the amount of work, dedication and talent that our staff puts in every month. So, the USF Encounter would like to offer a thank you to everyone who has contributed to the magazine and made it the news organization that it is today. Whether you spent three semesters or three years on our staff, we appreciate the time you put in and wish you nothing but the best.