February 26, 2008

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

Spectator Captures Awards at State Conference

VALDOSTA - The Spectator celebrated a resurgence of excellence when its staff brought home four awards from the 2007 Georgia College and Press Association Better Newspaper Awards Conference held Saturday, Feb 9, at the Ramada Inn in Macon.

The group accepted awards for General Advertising Excellence (2nd Place), Best Campus Community Service-Features (2nd place), Improvement Award (3rd Place) and the Best Campus Community News (3rd place). The awards were not captured based on evaluations of individual stories, but on continuous, high caliber work through the previous calendar year.

Dr. Pat Miller, senior advisor and professor in the English department, said the awards are indicative of the improvements and progress made by the entire Spectator staff during the past year. Typically boasting around 20 dedicated team members, the staff works around the clock to create a newspaper for the VSU student body. Miller said the students have a lot of energy, dedication to improvement and a willingness to experiment in order to progress, which is what truly helped the staff succeed.

More and more students have expressed interest in joining the award-winning staff because of the new opportunities it offers. Miller said that the newspaper has been increasing its focus on the “convergence” or melding of print media with other mediums, primarily the incorporation of Web sources into the weekly routine.

Buddy Mason and Lee Johnson, reporters/photographers
Buddy Mason and Lee Johnson, reporters/photographers
“The Spectator is on the verge of exploding into the Web era,” she said, adding the student group recently added an official Web editor to the team to support the technological advances. “By the end of the semester, sound bytes and coverage on the Web will be commonplace.”

The changes are attracting students from the Mass Media department, like Taylor Seay, who serves as Spectator editor-in-chief. Students like Seay can earn an Institutional Cross-training Certificate for Journalism and Mass Media Students. The certificate encourages print journalism students to learn the fundamentals of broadcast journalism and mass media students to learn to succeed in print. Another area of specialization awaiting approval is magazine journalism, which will allow students to publish a magazine titled “OnTap” once a semester.

“All I see is opportunity and I think we are going to fly,” Miller said.

The Spectator staff is certainly gaining recognition on campus and with the state-level organization for newspapers and its new technological advances will only improve its presence as a dynamic voice for the VSU student body. For more information, visit www.valdosta.edu/spec/index/ .
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