UCA’s media outlets and publications showed up and showed out in this year’s Arkansas College Media Association competition.
Media submissions were accepted until Jan. 25 at midnight and all entries were required to have been published online or in print during the 2018 calendar year.
Students and advisers from 10 colleges across the state gathered from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m April 5 at the Doc Bryan Student Services Center on the Arkansas Tech University campus for the 90th annual ACMA Conference and Awards Ceremony.
UCA students earned the most awards with a total of 87. Central Baptist College came in second, earning 44 awards, and Harding University earned 35 awards, narrowly beating out Arkansas Tech University which had 33.
The Vortex was the only college literary magazine to win any awards in any division or category. It won 30 awards — 15 first place, nine second place and six third place.
“We tried to get other magazines to enter,” 2018-19 The Vortex editor Ashley Hunter said. “I thought there was going to be two or three other schools entering, but I guess they didn’t.”
The Scroll earned 26 awards — seven first place, six second place, nine third place and four honorable mentions. The Scroll earned first place awards in the yearbook division for academic layout, closing, cover, divider, feature photo, introduction theme page/opening and student life photo.
The Echo earned 21 awards — seven first place, nine second place, three third place and two honorable mentions. The Echo earned first place awards in the newspaper division for editorial writing, election/political, news photo, news writing, review writing and sports photo. For the online division, The Echo earned first place for video podcast.
News6 earned 10 awards — five first place, three second place, one third place and one honorable mention. The first-place awards in the television division were for feature, sports feature, sports reporting and weather. News6 also received a first place award in the general excellence division for Television Outlet of the Year.
After breakfast and the advisers’ meeting, the conference offered workshops led by five guest speakers, including video and film producer Josh Baxter, Central Arkansas yearbook expert Natasha Durham, commercial real estate and tribal government reporter Molly Fleming, freelance journalist and book author Kat Robinson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Debra Hale-Shelton and KATV reporter Ansley Watson.
Baxter gave production tips, Fleming discussed reporting business news and Hale-Shelton discussed public affairs reporting at the three 9:30 a.m. breakout sessions.
In her discussion, Hale-Shelton addressed situations where officials might be reluctant to share information. She advised young reporters to email, call and text their sources, and if that doesn’t work, she suggested copying other appropriate officials, such as politicians, in an additional email just to “make [the source] nervous” enough to finally send the information being sought.
If that fails, Hale-Shelton discussed Freedom of Information requests in detail, especially pertaining to what actions students could take if an FOI request isn’t processed within the required time limit and what to do when FOIs come in with names redacted. The biggest takeaway from her discussion was the importance of persistence.
Watson discussed demographics, Durham discussed yearbook trends for 2020 and Robinson discussed discovering a niche in the freelance writing market at three 10:30 a.m. breakout sessions.
Robinson shared anecdotal stories from her career which spans from being an editor and producer for radio and TV to being a freelance magazine writer and an author of five books.
She said that in her early days of freelance writing, she produced a ton of content and never made much money, but that years later her early content provided her with many other opportunities because it got her name out there as an Arkansas food purveyor.
“The most important thing is to just do,” Robinson said. “It’s hard, but you can make a career out of it.”
After the breakout workshop sessions ended, lunch was served in the West Dining Room of the Chambers Cafeteria.
Rep. Mark Lowery from District 39 of the Arkansas House of Representatives gave a brief keynote speech about his role in fighting for freedom of the press protections for college students in Arkansas and the relationships he has formed with reporters within his role as a representative.
After a few questions from the audience, Lowery turned over the podium and the awards ceremony began.