When we submitted The Sandspur’s content to the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) in October, we did not know what to expect.
Managing Editor Trinideé Mercado and I began our tenure with a dwindling staff and the nerve-wracking reality that we had to shift our platform online. Over the summer, we interviewed several students, all of whom were strangers to us, to fill empty writer and editor positions. We were hopeful and nervous to hire new staff members who were committed to increasing transparency on campus.
Despite our worries, we struck gold. Literally. With a team of only five editors, including two freshmen and a sophomore, The Sandspur won a Gold Medalist Critique from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA).
In the middle of a pandemic. Without a proper journalism program on campus, and without a consistent group of contributors. We are a small staff at a small college, but we are lucky to have as much as we do.
We are lucky to have professional journalist Isaac Babcock, who leads weekly workshops for our staff. We are lucky to have Director of Student Media Greg Golden and Faculty Advisor Leslie Poole, who guide us in journalism ethics each week. We are lucky to have support from our readers, who give feedback and demand change on campus. We are lucky to have passionate and talented team members.
The CSPA’s panel of adviser-judges combed through our digital publication and scored our news outlet out of 1,000 points, according to three categories: Verbal, Essential, and Visual. Gold medals are awarded to student-run media that achieve a score of at least 800 out of 1,000 points.
In addition to receiving a Gold Medalist Critique, three of The Sandspur’s writers received Gold Circle Awards for outstanding work in the News Feature and Personal Opinion: On-campus Issues categories. Out of 4,132 applicants, CSPA judges only awarded 606 writers for their outstanding work. We were three of those winners. Congratulations to Kismet Kohn (‘24), Benjamin Mack-Jackson (‘24), and Em O’Malley (‘21) for their award-winning articles.
I am so proud of this staff and the people who support it. The CSPA saw that we are capable of shining lights on campus, and I know we will continue to do so, long after I graduate.