POWELL, Wyo. - Current and former Northwest Trail staffers grabbed first- and second-place awards recently at the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Region IX conference in Denver. The Trail is Northwest College’s student-produced weekly newspaper.
Senior reporter Jessica Keller of Torrington took first place for her breaking news story on the NWC student senate ruling that the campus veterans club was not exempt from the community service requirement for clubs seeking grant funding.
Former Trail photo editor Neal Hines of Billings, Mont., who is currently freelancing for the award-winning weekly, won first places for his general news photography image of the Empty Bowls event and for his sports shot called “Takin’ it to the Mat” that features college wrestlers.
Former copy chief Deborah Cobb of Wright, who won last year for a series of “real life” columns, scored first place again this year for a piece on college students who are mothers.
“We more than tripled the number of first place wins over last year,” Holly J. Wolcott, Trail adviser and journalism instructor said. “I’m thrilled. Yet again, affirmation that this newspaper and its journalists are doing solid, ethical work.”
A first-place win automatically qualifies a reporter to attend the national SPJ convention, which is slated this year in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in September.
Trail staffers also brought home a bounty of second place finishes from the Denver conference. Reed Tobol of Ronan, Mont., a 2011 NWC graduate, former ag/rodeo reporter and Trail Talk radio host, received a second for feature writing with his story about a woman who donated money to the Block and Bridle Club. The mother of two NWC students, she perished in a motel fire.
Former Trail co-editor-in-chief and sports writer Danny Menig of Cody scored a second for his piece on the men’s soccer team and its efforts during the off season. Menig, along with current editor-in-chief Gigi Hoagland of Cody and former co-editor-in-chief Mark Keierleber of Newcastle took second for their editorials published in 2011.
Hines also nabbed a second place for a photo illustration called “Lucky Number 7,” and Keller received a second for a board of trustees’ story on policy adherence.
Keller, Hoagland and current managing editor Steve Josephson attended the conference in Denver April 12-14. In addition to the awards ceremony, the group participated in several professional development sessions, specifically on open records, media law and social networking.