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Student newspaper takes home national honor

Members of The Independent student staff and faculty advisor Dee Anne Finken (left).

Members of The Independent student staff and faculty advisor Dee Anne Finken (left).

Members of the staff of The Independent, Clark College’s award-winning news operation, returned from San Francisco with another award to their name and plenty of new insights and ideas about producing good journalism in a rapidly evolving media landscape.

Eleven Clark student journalists and their adviser attended the 29th annual Associated College Press conference February 28 to March 3, where they won a seventh-place “Best of Show” award among community colleges. They also attended more than 60 workshops on topics that included ethics, multimedia-news production, investigative reporting, social media and newsroom management.

News staffs from more than 100 colleges and universities—both two- and four-year—from throughout the United States attended. Independent adviser Dee Anne Finken said she was pleased that the students won recognition from among so many institutions. Since 2010, the Independent has won more than 40 statewide awards.

More important, Finken said, was the breadth and depth of learning that took place at the conference. “Our students dove right in and learned all types of new lessons,” she said. “I think we’re going to be seeing some cool new developments in the Indy as students begin to apply what they learned here.”

Independent editor-in-chief Kyle Yasumiishi also said the trip was highly productive for his staff. “Clark College offers students many resources to help them succeed in school and the workplace,” he said. “However, the field of journalism is rapidly changing and attending a conference like this is valuable because it keeps student journalists up to date about emerging jobs and opportunities that didn’t exist 10 years ago and how to prepare for them.”

Yasumiishi said he also valued the opportunity to network with fellow student journalists as well as professionals. “It’s also inspiring to listen to keynote speakers who are leaders in their fields and on the forefront of the push to digital-first journalism,” he said.

Finken was a panelist in a workshop that focused on assessment. She spoke at “Making the Grade: Innovative Strategies for Evaluating Student Work.” “Finding ways to assess student work without engaging in pre-publication censorship is a long-running challenge for many of us who advise student journalists,” she said. “I was pleased to be part of a group that continues to explore meaningful assessment tools.”

When they were not attending workshops, students and their adviser took in some San Francisco sights, including Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, book and record stores and Chinatown. But overall, the trip was about learning, Yasumiishi said. “The key lesson I took away from the conference is to embrace the push to digital storytelling and multimedia journalism,” he said. “Since nobody has yet developed a profitable model that will completely replace newspapers, college journalists have a golden opportunity to try new ways of delivering the news.”

Photo: Left to right, back row, Margherita Nicotra, Kelli Borchers, and Jeff Knapp, second-from-back row, Madeline Bern, Evan Blatnik, and Bryce McQuivey, second­from-front row, Independent adviser Dee Anne Finken, Gabriella Benavides, and Sophia Coleman, front row, Kyle Yasumiishi, Michael Lusk, and Leisa Nunn.

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