2009 College Contest Results


First place: “Admin sees hefty budget, salary hikes,” by Aaron Hedge and J. David McSwane, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, Colorado State University.

This is solid reporting on an important issue – where the money goes, and what the money trends are. The budget summaries chart helps, as does the mugs breakout on FY 09 salaries.

There is grist here. It’s enough to start debate, and perhaps to support an editorial.

Though it could have been more smoothly written, and though it comes close to making the reader cross-eyed with numbers, this story is still the essence of good general reporting: facts that have meaning and that suggest a need for action.

Second place: “Prisoner education prevents return to jail rates,” by Eric Owen, The Lumberjack, Northern Arizona University.

This was the best-written story of the category – clever, smooth, and compellingly colorful. (Rule number one: Don’t bore anybody.) The story also provides a glimpse of a corner of life (teaching in prisons) that readers may know little about.


First place: “Latina deals with early pregnancy,” by Lee Hernandez, The Lumberjack, Northern Arizona University.

Here is an example of using a story (Guadalupe’s not-so-excellent adventures) to illustrate a problem (unintended pregnancy and its relationship to inadequate sex education) – and then to use the story again to outline a cascade of undesirable consequences.

From the moment of the first drinks in the bar, I wanted to see what happened to Guadalupe, and where the story was going.

This is good storytelling, with just the right number of breaks for official voices. It is well done in part because the writer does not over-quote, but knows instead when to paraphrase and summarize.

Second place: “Meet artist Magic Cyclops” by Erik Myers, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, Colorado State University.

There were other stories in the features category with greater potential for color and drama (the homeless man living under a bridge; the Marine fatally wounded in Iraq; the all-boy band) – but none of the writers took adequate advantage of that potential.

With “Magic Cyclops,” at least, I get an amusing picture of an off-kilter DJ/performance artist – a second-tier Weird Al – playing the role of a local anti-hero.

The writer uses only the direct quotes that advance our sense of the character. An off-beat profile that kept me reading.


First place: “Letting go of it all,” by Andrew Pentis, ASU Web Devil, Arizona State University.

“Little man with big heart makes it big” is a standard in the sports writing roundup, but Pentis does a good job reviving an old story in this tale of an Arizona State pitcher.

The writer draws a series of pictures that created a you-are-there feeling, listening alongside the reporter. Good writing, and the clipped, neat, short paragraphs kept the narrative moving.

Josh Satow, his coach, and his father were the three players in the story – each in his place, and each imparting the right tone over the right number of words.

Nice package. The photos (one static, one action) are worth mentioning, along with the just-enough stats box.

Judged by Corydon Ireland Writer, Harvard University Gazette, Harvard University.