Crusader wins back-to-back All-Kansas awards

The Crusader has again been selected as the recipient of the All-Kansas award, the top journalism award for two-year college newspapers in the state. The Crusader won the All-Kansas award in 2013, with the 2014 back-to-back win announced at the Kansas Collegiate Media conference Monday in Wichita.

Crusader photojournalist and design editor Jakub Stepanovic was named the two-year college newspaper Kansas Collegiate Journalist of the Year. In addition, Makiah Adams, editor for Fall 2013, won second runner-up in the Journalist of the Year competition.

Stepanovic, an international student, said he was “super excited about the recognition earned” and appreciates the award even more because of the competitiveness of entrants and overcoming the challenges he faced coming to a new country, working in a new community, and adjusting to writing in English.

“I know that my strengths are visuals. I was trying to apply in the fields of photography, illustrations, and design,” he said. “I enjoy my work, and it’s really an honor to be recognized for it.”

Stepanovic also commented on the Crusader winning All-Kansas.

“It’s really important and the best recognition a newspaper staff can get, and since we earned it two years in a row, it’s a really great honor,” he said. “The reward is for everyone on staff. The more who try to do their best, the better chance we have to complete those results.”

Other Crusader editors and staff members were also enthusiastic about the recognition of the All-Kansas award.

“I am so, so, so proud of this staff because everyone stepped up,” Adams said. “We had a pretty inexperienced staff, but everyone took the time to learn how to do things and do them right. It took a lot of time and effort, and I’m just super excited.”

The Crusader staff received 18 individual awards, including four first-place awards, four second-place awards, five third-place awards and five honorable mentions. The on-site copy-editing contest recognized Crusader news staff member Kyleigh Becker as the third-place winner, and Adams received honorable mention.

In the special sections category, the Crusader staff claimed a first-place award for its “Back-to-School: Desktop Daze” issue produced in August 2013.

“This is such a hard-working, media savvy and talented group, and I am obviously incredibly proud of these accomplishments, both for the individuals and the staff as a whole,” said Anita Reed, SCCC/ATS journalism instructor and Crusader adviser. “The All-Kansas award for two-year newspapers is extremely competitive. It has been really rewarding to work with these students and see them respond and be willing to take the time to achieve the skills it takes to win awards. To win All-Kansas back-to-back just rocks.”

One thing Reed said that was particularly satisfying was the Journalist of the Year judge’s comments highlighting how both entrants from the Crusader, in their application letters, had credited staff teamwork.

“She credits her staff and her adviser with helping her achieve her goals,” the judge said about Adams. “In fact, her letter is complimentary throughout about staff members and their determination to do good journalism.”

To be considered for the Journalist of the Year award, student journalists must be recommended by an adviser, and take responsibility to write an application letter and a resumé, collect letters of recommendation and compile a portfolio of work. It was from the application letters that the judge noted the team attitude of this Crusader staff.

“Throughout Jakub’s letter, he repeatedly praised the other members of the staff for their work,” the judge said. “He spoke of everything as a collective effort, giving credit to his fellow staffers. He said the team worked as a unit to ‘produce information that matters not only for the students, but the whole town, in a nicely designed graphic package.’”

Anita Reed, adjunct adviser Matthew Adkins, and seven members of the Crusader staff attended the convention. Editors Dawn Shouse, Liberal, and Makiah Adams, Liberal; design editor Jakub Stepanovic, Liberec, Czech Republic; sports editor Maria Lara, Liberal; new media director Diana Chavira, Liberal; and staff writers and photographers Dallas Kelling, Dalhart, Texas, and Kyleigh Becker, Salina, represented the Crusader at the convention.

The convention began Sunday afternoon with an Associated Press Style editing contest, training sessions, a keynote address, awards ceremony and publication critiques.

Some Crusader staff members attended sessions the morning of April 14, while some went on professional media tours at KSN and the Wichita Eagle. Conference sessions such topics such as photography, radio, media marketing, the power of positivity, social media, writing for the 21st century reader and career options.

The convention ended Monday afternoon with the final awards ceremony, where the Crusader staff received the All-Kansas Award and Gold Medalist Award and Stepanovic was announced as the two-year newspaper Kansas Collegiate Journalist of the Year.

Shouse, the current Crusader editor, took an overall look at the efforts of her staff and the results of the state conference.

“Besides being recognized for such top honors, I enjoyed seeing my fellow staff members celebrate the well deserved fruits of their labor,” Shouse said.