Journalism Wins Awards, Gains Presidency

Kate Krantz

Neither the front nor back seat could have sufficed. The presidential seat was the only one to take.

Formerly known as an El Vaquero staff writer, Vaughn Lawrence is now recognized as the SoCal Regional Student President of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC), inside and outside of the newsroom.

At the conference, elections were held for the Board of Directors members for the 2011-12 fiscal year, with Lawrence entering the competition among six other participants from SoCal regions.

When the face-off began, all six participants sat waiting their turn to answer questions from the audience, filled with interrogative journalists. The pressure was felt among all the candidates. However, he did not possess an ounce of hesitation to tackle the stage.

“I was nervous as I sat idly by watching the other candidates speak,” said Lawrence. “Frankly, I was surprised when they announced my name as the winner. I noticed that for a journalism convention there was not a lot of interaction between participants, and that is something I would like to improve upon.”

Lawrence, along with seven other El Vaquero staff writers and photographers, attended the JACC state conference held at the Doubletree Hotel in Sacramento from April 7 to 10 where Glendale’s student publications won a total of 14 awards.

The state organization is compiled of two regional divisions: NorCal, representing colleges north of Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley and Santa Maria on the coast and SoCal, representing community colleges south of those locales.

JACC hosted approximately 580 student and faculty delegates represented by 48 colleges in California and one school from Rhode Island. The rivalry was fierce.

Numerous community colleges across state compete once every year at the conference for awards on submitted work from the previous semester and from other JACC competitions.

From competitions, workshops to tours to The State Capitol and Fox40 News, staff members were on the top of their game with pens, recorders and notebooks.

The newspaper showcased its talents in mail-in, bring-in, and on-the-spot contests for writing, photography and page layout.

Despite the substantial number of participants, El Vaquero was able to grab victory by its horns.

“The copy editing contest was a big challenge so when I received an honorable mention, I was delighted and couldn’t believe my ears,” said Derek Stowe.

Although The Insider, the campus magazine which is produced by the JOURN 107 class every spring semester, took home most of the awards, student-produced spoof entertainment magazine Idol was a surprise hit, picking up an honorable mention for design and another for a humorous opinion piece.

Inspired by The Insider’s use of Magcloud to produce short-run magazines online, long-term staff member Graig Agop and his brother Hosvep recruited every ex-El Vaquero journalist and photographer they could scavenge to produce the magazine during the summer. This group included three ex-editors and a rotating staff culled from five years of association with Glendale’s journalism department.

“I guess you could describe it as a Hail Mary pass,” said Jane Pojawa, the Insider’s editor-in-chief. “But we didn’t have enough entries for JACC’s contest categories. Idol isn’t journalism – it’s a humor magazine – and it didn’t have a faculty advisor, but it did meet the criteria of being a student publication.

“So I explained all of that in a cover letter and used Idol to plug some of the holes in our entry package. I have to say that I was shocked but delighted that in the few categories for which it was eligible for competition, Idol represented Glendale splendidly.”

Considering the subject matter of the magazine, the brothers knew they were taking a risk. Thankfully, the judges accepted and rewarded what they strived to accomplish.

Even still, there is room for improvement. “I’ll have more time to tweak the layout of the next issue and experiment with how to translate the information to evolving media formats,” said Hovsep.

In past projects for Glendale’s newspaper and magazine, the Agop brothers have won a number of JACC awards, including audio slideshow and feature photo. In addition, they picked up another honorable mention for a student-designed advertisement, “We’re Positive!” to promote the journalism department, which ran in the Insider.?

“For the past three years, award wins at JACC have been the only way of convincing my peers, advisors and at times myself that I’m not crazy but rather full of horrible ideas that, manipulated correctly, actually work, said Graig. I thank JACC for its support and encouragement that has driven me to grow. I would also like to thank Shakira for bringing out the sun in the mornings.”

This year, the convention featured a new competition enthused by the popularly used social networking website, Twitter. Junior college students set up accounts and were awarded one point for each newsworthy post during the three-day competition. The college with the most points won. Staff writer Ashley Carey placed second and was even presented with a customized award for the best Twitter personality.

“I actually had no idea anyone was reading my personal Twitter account, so the fact that they created an award for me was a huge surprise, said Carey. I was too afraid to make jokes on the official El Vaquero account so I put them on my own to get them out of my system and that’s what won.”

At JACC, one has to learn the rules of the game and El Vaquero, Insider and Idol are playing better than anyone else.

The Southern California conference will be held at Cal State Fullerton in the fall.

The JACC winners at the state convention are:

First Place: Louis Roche

Fourth Place: Louis Roche

Fourth Place: Louis Roche

Second Place: Edwin Lopez
HM: Adriana Orellana

HM: Graig and Hovsep Agop

HM: Hovsep Agop

HM: Ernesto Ramirez

Third Place: Louis Roche

Fourth Place: Derek Stowe

Ashley Carey

Second Place: El Vaquero (Ashley Carey)

Third Place: Ian Cervantes

HM: Derek Stowe

Jane Pojawa