|by Chris Barsotti, Journal Review • March 31, 2009|
Last year at the Indiana College Press Association’s awards banquet, Wabash College’s Bachelor was runner-up for Division III top honor of "Newspaper of the Year," losing by one point.
This year, the Bachelor was not to be outdone.
On top of being named "Newspaper of the Year," the Bachelor staff won 31 awards in 23 different categories, including junior Gary James taking home second-place honors for Journalist of the Year.
"It felt great to get second place," James said. "Of all the journalists in the state, a group of people felt like I was No. 2. "Afterward, I was talking with some people about the first-place winner (Michael Sanserino of Indiana University) and even I agreed he was pretty amazing and deserving of the top honor."
Editor-in-Chief and junior Patrick McAlister was floored by the results. "After winning more than 20 awards last year, we were just hoping to duplicate that and maybe improve a little bit knowing we had a chance at the top honor," he said. "To bring home as many awards as we did was a testament to the hard work the staff put in to make the Bachelor as good as it is."
Sports Editor Chuck Summers was the top award winner for the paper bringing home five awards and he said it has been an honor for the paper to get the recognition.
"It was very rewarding to win," he said. "A lot of guys put in a lot of volunteer time each week and now we have tangible evidence of how well we are doing."
Summers said the sports section has been a work in progress over the last few years. "When I started it was just me and one or two other writers working on the sports," he said. "Over the last few years we have had more consistent staff members working on sports and we have been able to develop the section to what it is today.
"I am hoping that before I leave, we will build upon the section and improve it even more."
Howard Hewitt, the adviser for the Bachelor, said it isn’t just awards that show progress.
"Over the past couple years, the quality of journalism has steadily increased," he said. "There isn’t a single journalism class at Wabash and these awards are a testament to the students and them taking an extracurricular activity seriously."
McAlister said one of his main objectives heading into this year was to get away from lecture-based stories and do more writing about issues that would affect students directly.
"One of the first stories we wrote, we had Gary and a photographer go out in the middle of the night to try to break into campus living quarters," he said. "They had very little trouble getting into 11 of the 14 rooms they attempted to get into, and that was a real eye-opener for the college."
McAlister said the staff has been forced to cover difficult subjects.
"When we had Johnny Smith pass away here on campus, that was a very difficult story because of what we had to deal with," he said. "We had to deal with an angry student populace as well as with administration not being able to tell us a whole lot because of what they didn’t know.
"The good thing was there certainly was not a lack of news to write about on campus this year and I think it has made all of us better at what we are doing."
While Wabash may not have specific journalism courses to offer its students, McAlister said Wabash is a great place for journalism because of what it does teach.
"A liberal arts education is one of the best educations one can get for a journalism background," he said. "There are naturally curious, well-rounded smart students here who want to go out and find stories about what is going on.
"That part can’t be taught to students. You can’t teach someone how to have the knack to go find a story. Wabash is great at teaching us how to tell a story and getting us to want to get out there and figure out what is going on.