2011 ACP Reporter of the Year Award Winners
Four-year College Reporter
Judge's comments: "Over and Back" was a ridiculously impressive story for a college paper. Stevens actually went to Africa to report on the difficulty that Cameroon basketball players have in getting to America. Not a topic that immediately would draw in a typical reader or play on his empathy, but in-depth interviews with the subjects did just that. It illustrated another example of the globalization of our world. No other entry went to such lengths to get a story -- innovation and hard work is why Matt Stevens got this award. There even was one other entry about the same topic, but applying for a scholarship in order to travel to another country to do reporting was above and beyond what any other college reporter did in 2011. Each story had its own strengths -- well-researched facts, touching storytelling, and impressive quotes -- all illustrated superbly by Maya Sugarman's photos (including an audio slideshow), fascinating info graphics, and a stunning layout. Hard to believe this came from people who are not professionals with many years of experience under their belt. Well-done. Stevens' additional story was about the UCLA Bruins basketball team being forced to play in temporary homes while a new arena is built -- again, not a topic that would seem to be required reading, especially at such lengths, but Stevens has a talent at turning a somewhat pedestrian story into a dramatic, well-paced read, told largely through interesting and funny quotes.
Judge's comments: Lindsey is in this category because of her storytelling abilities. Her three stories more than anything else tugged on the heartstrings. The first few paragraphs of "Chain Reaction" read more like a short story than a feature story in a newspaper, and almost brought tears to the eyes. It could have been a typical story about a campus group, "Actively Caring," but through clearly-drawn images of how their work has actually touched people, she turned it into much more than that. The other two stories, "Missing Peace" about the Harrington family struggling on after the murder of their daughter Morgan, and "Forever on their Minds," about the Lawall family trying to make sense of the suicide of their son, Kevin, were intensely personal looks into faces of grief. Brookbank spent a lot of time with these two families and included a lot of detail about what their lives are like today.
Judge's comments: The stories on the murder of Justin Cosby were interesting, well-researched and clearly told. With four defendants, the stories could have been a mess, but the layout, which included a timeline and a section on "key players" was helpful. We were pleasantly surprised that the reporters sought out Brittney Smith's high school principal as a source. I appreciated the large amount of background on her story. The story was detailed but well-edited. It easily could have become unwieldy in other hands. The story on the Boston homeless newspaper, on the other hand, seemed long. However, it also managed to keep us fairly interested for most of its length with its close-up look at how people end up on the street. There were in-depth interviews with a variety of interesting characters involved in the publication of Spare Change.
Two-year College Reporter
Judge's comments: Kirsteen's entries were as varied as they were in-depth. She tackled several issues with on-campus organizations using public records and relevant sources to support her narrative. The complexity of her reporting in her first entry about the relationship between her college and its student government was evident from the lede to the final graph. I found myself drawn into her story and easily understood the ambiguity she explained in her piece. The follow-up to her first piece was just as informative and necessary to the story as a whole as her first story and I found myself wanting to know more about the relationship between the two entities after reading her stories. Kirsteen's willingness to take on such a complicated legal ambiguity and ability to condense what must have been a massive amount of information to sift through into a relevant story is admirable. Her third entry, entirely unrelated to the first two was what cemented her status as Reporter of the Year for me. She took a contentious issue between students and administrators and instead of presenting the story as a "he said, she said" issue, she gave both sides equal factual weight and presented a balanced story. I am impressed with her dedication and look forward to seeing more of her work.
Judge's comments: I was impressed with Remco's ability to take what would normally have been crime briefs and turn them into well-sourced, informative stories. He answered every question I could have had about his stories. The quality of his writing placed him above other entries that contained just as much news reporting but presented facts poorly or didn't follow a coherent narrative. He also managed to interview several sources close to situations that would be uncomfortable for them to speak about. It's the mark of a good reporter that they have the ability to make people comfortable in situations that are stressful and that skill would make him an asset to any newsroom. I was also impressed with his adherence to AP style and grammar.
Judge's comments: Sam's entry was actually in a dead heat with one other entry for most of this competition. The other entry contained long-form investigative pieces that tackled similar subjects and were exciting to read but they were lacking in sources and the author focused more on storytelling that presenting factual information. Sam's stories are filled with relevant and varied sources of information. Ultimately, the reporter who takes the time to answer the "who says" question, instead of presenting information as their own, must be considered the better reporter. All three of Attal's pieces were informative and well sourced while also being easy to read. Each was also local, relevant to his readership, well informed and grammatically sound.
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Yearbook Pacemaker - Jan. 15, 2013
Online Pacemaker - Feb. 15, 2013
Newspaper / Magazine Pacemaker - June 7, 2013
ACP National College Journalism Convention (Media+) - Feb. 28-March 3, 2013, San Francisco
ACP Best of the Midwest College Journalism Convention - Feb. 8-10, 2013, Minneapolis