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The Feather Online wins 6th consecutive Gold Crown award

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Feather staffers celebrate after being named Gold Crown Recipients at the 94th annual CSPA Convention, March 16.

To conclude the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s (CSPA) 94th annual Spring Convention, attendees gathered in the Alfred Lerner Hall for the award convocation, March 16. This year, The Feather Online won it’s sixth consecutive Digital News Gold Crown award and eighth since 2010.

The Feather was one of only three digital newspapers in the U.S. to earn a Digital News Gold Crown, while 60 schools qualified for this category. Over 1,100 schools qualified for the competition overall.

The CSPA convention features several guest speakers who come from a variety of backgrounds and careers. The convention aims to unite student journalists, whether they be on their schools yearbook, magazine or newspaper team.

Founded in 1925, the CSPA is ran and owned by Columbia University. Edmund J. Sullivan has worked as the director of the program since 1981. 

According to the CSPA website, “1,100 digital, print newspapers, magazines and yearbooks published during the 2016-2017 academic year were eligible for judging in the 2018 Crown Awards Program.

The Crown awards honor top student publications chosen from CSPA’s members.  Crowns are selected for overall excellence in a head-to-head comparison. Student publishing in news, magazine, yearbook or digital (online) formats are all-eligible.  During Crown consideration, publications are judged on their excellence as shown by their design, photography, concept, coverage and writing.”

Sullivan believes the conference gives students the opportunity to unite, create, and learn to network with each other.

“I think this convention is important because it gives students an opportunity to come together and network with one another as well as learn from one another, and the teachers too,” Sullivan said. “Predominantly, it gives the students an opportunity to see what other students in schools do as well.”

Nearly 2,700 students representing 310 schools attended the 2018 event. There were more than 350 sessions which were split into separate categories by newspaper, photography, yearbook, magazine, broadcasting as well as sessions for advisers.

There is no way we could have won the Gold Crown without all of the support, dedication and hard work put in by the staffers. It is an amazing honor to represent the staff this year as an editor. I also want to thank all of the staff members who didn’t come with us to New York as well. They did a great job keeping up with school events while we were away and have done amazing work all year long.” — Mariana Fikse, Editor-in-Chief

Feather staff member Kyle Friesen, ‘19, traveled to New York City for the first time to attend the conference. He enjoyed the sessions and believes he learned a lot from what the speakers conveyed.

“The sessions taught a lot of specialized skills and it was really interesting to listen to people who were experts in their fields,” Friesen said. “You really get a pinpoint idea of what it’s like to work in that specific area of journalism. The only part I didn’t like was waking up early in the morning to go to the sessions.”

The Feather taught a combined three sessions at Columbia University. Photography adviser Kori Friesen led the first of the sessions on the first morning of the conference, March 14. Using her knowledge of photography, she taught listeners how to use their image as a ‘hook’ to draw the readers into the article.

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Editor-in-Chiefs Sam Cross, left, Mariana Fikse and Alexander Rurik pose with the Gold Crown plaque.

On the second day of the conference, Feather advisers Greg Stobbe and Friesen joined forces to tell students about the power of social media. After giving several examples, the duo offered tips to others about how to market their papers on their social media accounts.

Directly following the social media session, Feather editor-in-chiefs Sam Cross, ’19, Alexander Rurik, ’19, and senior Mariana Fikse taught a session entitled ‘Elements of an Award Winning Team’. The editors discussed different techniques they use to stay connected with their staff while also upholding them to the level of excellence being on a nationally awarded paper demands. They also spent time answering questions for students who wanted to learn more.

On the final day of the conference, students flocked to Columbia University’s Lerner Hall to hear from members of the Eagle Eye MSD and Aerie Yearbook staffs from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Within weeks, the school became a household name after the tragic shooting that took place on Valentine’s Day, taking the lives of 17 students at MSD High School.

After speaking, the group received a standing ovation from the crowd. Sullivan also awarded the members of The Eagle Eye a Gold Crown, which again received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Soon, names of student publications were announced alphabetically by emcee Antonio Rodriguez, CSPA’s assistant director, for the Crown awards. When “The Feather Online” and Fresno Christian High School were finally read off, Rodriguez paused for what seemed to be longer than usual before reading off the words “Gold Crown.”

The Feather earned its sixth consecutive CSPA Digital News Gold Crown and eighth since 201o. Only five California and only 20 U.S. schools overall earned a Gold Crown in either the Digital News or  Hybrid News (combined online plus print) categories. According to the CSPA, The Feather Online was only one of three online newspapers to earn a Gold Crown in the Digital News category with 60 schools eligible to compete in 2018.

Overall, CSPA awarded 85 Gold Crown and 163 Silver Crowns to deserving schools and are a “top-down” view over overall publication excellence. According to the CSPA website, “Crowns are selected for overall excellence in a head-to-head comparison. Student publishing in news, magazine, yearbook or digital (online) formats are all-eligible.  During Crown consideration, publications are judged on their excellence as shown by their design, photography, concept, coverage and writing.”

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

The Feather Online earned it’s sixth consecutive Gold Crown and eighth since 2010.

Editor-in-Chief Mariana Fikse, ‘18, appreciates the hard work staff members put into The Feather all year long.

“There is no way we could have won the Gold Crown without all of the support, dedication and hard work put in by the staffers,” Fikse said. “It is an amazing honor to represent the staff this year as an editor. I also want to thank all of the staff members who didn’t come with us to New York as well. They did a great job keeping up with school events while we were away and have done amazing work all year long.”

Congratulations to all the papers who received a Gold or Silver Crown this year at the CSPA Convention! The Feather Online is only one of five California schools who publish online and earned a Gold Crown in either a Digital News or Hybrid News category. Only 20 schools from across the United States earned a Gold Crown in 2018.

Slideshow below includes images from CSPA Spring Convention crowning ceremony and celebratory images.

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The CSPA is an international student press association uniting student journalists and faculty advisers at schools and colleges through educational conferences, idea exchanges and award programs. Owned by Columbia University since 1925 and operated as a program affiliated with its Graduate School of Journalism, the Association offers three major services: 1) annual competitions and awards for members, including the Crown Awards, 2) planning two conventions (one national, one regional) and a week-long summer workshop at Columbia, plus 3) small press publishing activities to support an e-zine. — CSPA website

For more articles from New York, read Join the Discussion: 2018 CSPA Spring Convention and Feather takes NYC: Day 5 Recap.

Mariana Fikse also contributed to this article.

This author can be reached via twitter @alexrurik23 and via email: Alexander Rurik.

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