GCC’s El Vaquero newspaper staff brought home nine awards from the competitive state-wide Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC) conference held in downtown Los Angeles April 1 through 4.
With more than 50 other California community colleges participating in the JACC convention hosted at the Wilshire Grand Hotel, El Vaquero won awards in writing, illustration, design, Web design and photography. Some contests were based on mail-in entries by the colleges before the deadline, while others were on-the-spot competitions that were entered at the convention.
Though the convention gave journalism students a chance to compete with others for awards, it was also an opportunity for many of them to experience journalism under pressure.
For example, the news story competition required reporters to attend a staged press conference and then write the article for the event in the hour preceding it. Staff writer Ryan Pile won an honorable mention for his news story in this competition, as well as third place for headline writing.
“The competitions provide us, aspiring journalists, a taste of real-world newspaper reporting,” said Pile. “It’s also a chance to beat Citrus College.”
Edward Rawson won first place for his line-illustration in the mail-in competition, while El Vaquero’s Online Editor Michael Arvizu helped the staff win the general excellence award for the newspaper’s online Web site.
El Vaquero’s Editor-in-Chief Bonnie Schindler received an honorable mention for her front page design in the tabloid category.
For the team-feature competition, a writer and photographer from each staff were paired up to compete together. While the writer found the story topic and wrote the article, the photographer was to take an accompanying photo. Staff writer Martina Vassileva and photographer Rosalyn Reason received an honorable mention for this competition.
Photographers to El Vaquero, Elizabeth Linares, Cynthia Perry and Reason each won awards for their photography. Linares won an honorable mention in the bring-in photo competition, Perry received an honorable mention for her feature photo and Reason was awarded fourth place for her bring-in photo illustration.
The staff not only competed in these competitions, but also attended various workshops given by media professionals on topics ranging from news writing, to photography, to design.
At the end of each night, students attended dinner and social events to wind-down from their hectic workshop and competition schedules, while being given the opportunity to meet other student journalists from all over the state.
“JACC is an opportunity that allows student journalists to take part in real time news writing,” said Schindler. “The organization provides an important step in the development of quick thinking, clear writing and most of all the ability to make the deadline.”
Sports writers also had the opportunity to take advantage of the opportunity that the convention offered. They attended a Dodger game for their competition and then rode a bus back to the hotel to write their story the same night.
These real-life, under-pressure experiences gave student journalists a chance to use and enhance their journalism skills.
Staff members Aren Allahyarian, Emin Avakian, Joann Chan, Judith Ghougassian, Ramtin Jamshidi, Maria Kornalian, Arin Mikailian, Pile, Milana Shakhgulyan, Vassileva; photographers Reason, Perry, and Lenares; and Editor Schindler attended the convention.
The statewide competition is held every April, alternating locations between Los Angeles and Sacramento. The Southern California competition is held every October at Cal State Fullerton with community colleges from Southern California attending. Last fall, El Vaquero received four awards in headline writing, Web design, and photography.
“It was a really fun weekend and a great learning experience at the same time,” said Allahyarian. “I’m looking forward to next year’s JACC.”