Letter from the Editor: TNL staff wins 11 state awards

Every year the Alaska Press Club awards state media for their journalistic efforts in everything from business reporting to best illustration. Every year, UAA students at The Northern Light compete with full-time professionals in these categories.

This year TNL won 11 awards.

The Northern Light staff Malia Barto, Cheyenne Mathews, Levi Brown, Caleigh Jensen and Mary Ryan display awards won at Alaska Press Club 2019. Photo courtesy of Cheyenne Mathews.

First Place

Best Website (All media) —  TNL Staff

Best Education Reporting (Print-Small and Large) —  Marie Ries

Best Scenic Photo (TV, Radio, Print-Small) —  Chase Burnett

Suzan Nightingale Award for Best Columnist (Print-Small) —  Robert Hockema

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Second Place

Best Magazine Cover (Print-Small and Large) —  Jian Bautista

Best Weekly Newspaper (Print-Small and Large) —  TNL Staff

Best Profile (Print- Small)  — Robin O’Donoghue

Suzan Nightingale Award for Best Columnist (Print-Small) —  Ben Edwards

Best Breaking News Story (Print-Small and Large) —  Robin O’Donoghue

Best Education Reporting (Print-Small and Large) —  Robin O’Donoghue

Third Place

Best Headline Writing (All media) —  Caleigh Jensen

Current and former TNL alumni also won awards for their work in other organizations including former Copy Editor Victoria Petersen (for Peninsula Clarion and The Spenardian), Executive Editor Levi Brown (for The Spenardian), former A&E Editor Ammon Swenson (Alaska Public Media), former Executive Editor Samantha Davenport and former Staff Photographer Young Kim (for the Spenardian) and me (for Anchorage Daily News).

After spending three years as an editor and reporter at TNL, I can confirm that it is not an easy task to compete with professional journalists in these awards while maintaining a busy student schedule. Student journalists are expected to sustain their course load while writing two stories for The Northern Light every week, taking photos, editing copy, making graphics or all of the above.

This year, in particular, has been a draining year to be a UAA journalist. The 2018-19 academic year saw more breaking news than either of the previous two years combined. When the earthquake hit UAA, our paper was quick to put out information, gather student and staff photos and create video round-ups of the updates.

It turns out the earthquake was just a practice round for what ended up being the biggest breaking news of the year for UAA students: several programs in the School of Education had lost their accreditation. While no one in our staff was seeking an education degree, we all knew someone who was impacted by this situation. As student journalists, it’s hard to write about your peers undergoing something as frustrating and disappointing as losing the ability to walk at graduation with an accredited UAA degree.

While Press Club will not award anything for 2019 until next spring, coverage of the School of Education demonstrates the necessity of student journalism. In this time of crisis, education students like Nick Tabaczka were given a platform to discuss how the loss of accreditation affected them personally. Staff members from our features editor to our executive editor attended a slew of forums — which were often held at times when education majors were partaking in student teaching —  so that they could be informed.

Throughout the year, we’ve continued to inform you of pressing student issues from sexual assault awareness on campus to the Governor’s proposed budget for the university. We’ve also given you things to read for reprieve like food critiques and theatre previews.

Next year, Caleigh Jensen will continue the valuable work done this year as executive editor. She is taking on the role as seven staff graduate this semester, so if you are interested in continuing the legacy of TNL, apply at careers.alaska.edu