The El Vaquero staff represented GCC at the annual 57th Journalism Association of Community Colleges State Convention at the Burbank Marriott on March 22 to 24, bringing home four awards.
John Ferrara won second place for his on-the-spot news story.
“I was very confident in my on-the-spot news competition. When they called my name, I think everyone at the table, including myself, was in a bit of shock, but I recovered and proceeded to take the sweetest victory lap of my life.” Ferrara said.
“I’m glad my efforts were noticed. There were community colleges from all over California to compete, and to win second place at a journalism convention makes me very proud,” he said.
Staff members included editor-in-chief Jessica Bourse, Eric Bourse, Agnes Constante, John Ferrara, Angel Silva, and Kristine Tuzon under the supervision of adviser Michael Moreau.
“We took a very strong team of writers with us,” Jessica Bourse said.
The staff competed against 45 community colleges around California, including Rio Hondo, Long Beach, Riverside, Los Angeles and Pasadena.
El Vaquero’s reporters participated in competitions in sports writing, critical review, feature writing, opinion writing, and news writing. All writers were put into on-the-spot conditions where students evaluated and examined different features of each writing criteria. They would later write a fact-based story on what they all experienced.
The on-the-spot opinion writing competition showed a documentary called “Miss Representation” where reporters had to critique the film.
“It really opened my eyes on how the media treats women and how it affects not only women, but also society as a whole,” Eric Bourse said.
The competitions are designed to test journalism students and push their limits, sometimes leaving them out of their element.
“As journalists, we have to be prepared for anything,” Jessica Bourse said.
Students competing in sports writing were thrown off-guard when they were taken to a women’s lacrosse match, which left many writers out of their element.
El Vaquero’s sports editor Ferrara and Eric Bourse were first-time participants.
“My on-the-spot sports competition was very difficult. It really tested my limits as a sports editor,” Ferrara said.
“I’ve never seen a full lacrosse match before, so it was fun watching and trying to figure out the rules,” Eric Bourse said.
In each competition, students were given a one-hour time limit to write and perfect each story.
“It was very stressful and very difficult to do.” Jessica Bourse said. “To cover an event, have less than 15 minutes to think about it and have only an hour to write it is really stressful.”
Copy editor Constante said the hour limit was a good experience.
“It was a real life experience as to what I’m going to be doing if I go out into the field of journalism,” she said.
Outside the competitive area, however, students attended workshops that suited their personal interests and help them in different aspects of journalism.
“The workshops were very interesting and useful for students who are very serious about going into the journalism industry,” Jessica Bourse said.
Workshops included broadcast journalism, design in photojournalism, podcasting, contemporary music journalism, and more.
“The workshop by Steve Gregory, reporter for KFI News, was very interesting and entertaining,” Eric Bourse said. “He provided great insight on what it takes to be a radio reporter and he used humor and fascinating stories to entertain everyone.”
One of the staff’s favorite workshops was given by speaker James Meier on “25 Easy Investigations You Can Do on Your College Campus.”
“Desert Sun editor James Meier’s workshop on investigations for college students was really cool. It inspired me to start an investigation on campus of my own,” Silva said.
JACC’s keynote speakers were Pulitzer Prize reporters, Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb of the Los Angeles Times. They shared their experiences about reporting and uncovering the salary scandal in the city of Bell in 2010.
Journalists asked these reporters different questions about the Bell experience to making it in the journalism business.
“It was very inspiring to listen to these two reporters speak and see how reporting the facts can really make a difference in the world,” Jessica Bourse said.
An award dinner ceremony was held on Saturday to announce the winners for each competition.
Glendale received an honorable mention for front-page layout and Isiah Reyes received third place in mail-in news writing.
The Insider, the campus’ magazine, received an award for magazine general excellence. Marlon Miranda and Roger Lai received first place for magazine photo story.
Ferrara and Jessica Bourse won fourth place for bring-in advertisement.
“I was pleasantly surprised I received an award for bring-in advertisement,” Jessica Bourse said. “It just shows the level of talent that’s out there in other community colleges and that’s something we can be proud of.”
Many of the staff’s highlights were bonding with the staff outside the campus newsroom, interacting with other colleges, and also recognizing and appreciating their own work.
“JACC was a learning experience. It taught me I need to practice a lot more to achieve a level of writing that I’m happy with,” Silva said.
The staff acknowledged the effort they put into their work and proudly represented Glendale Community College.
Ferrara said, “The highlight for me was winning an award for our program, especially in a time where our budget is being slashed. I think it’s important to show that we’re really producing some quality work at El Vaquero.”