Student newspaper earns national press honor

The student newspaper at Western Carolina University recently received a national award and was a finalist for a second honor at the 89th annual Associated Collegiate Press/College Media Advisers National College Media Convention held in Louisville, Ky.

The Western Carolinian staff received an eighth-place general excellence award in the “publication website – small school” category of the convention’s “best of show contest.” The category recognizes the top 10 newspaper websites at universities with fewer than 15,000 students.

Western Carolinian editor Justin Caudell (Photo by Shelby Harrell)

Western Carolinian editor Justin Caudell (Photo by Shelby Harrell)

Editor-in-chief Justin Caudell and news editor Alexa Menz also were finalists in the “best use of new media” category for their use of social networking on behalf of The Western Carolinian.

“The Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Advisers recognizing The Western Carolinian’s website is very rewarding and is a testament to my staff’s work,” Caudell said. “Being named a finalist for an award is just as satisfying. The type of contests such as the one at the National College Media Convention put The Western Carolinian against newspapers that have larger staffs and budgets, which automatically put us at a disadvantage. But we were able to show this year that we can compete, and we will continue to work hard and strive to do better.”

Katherine Duff Smith, WCU’s assistant director of student media and marketing, said the award provides outside validation of the quality of work by student media. “I’m very proud to see the hard work of The Western Carolinian staff being recognized in this manner,” Smith said.

Also at the convention, The Western Carolinian received a 2010-11 Louis Ingelhart First Amendment Award Grant from the College Media Association. The $250 grant will help the newspaper staff develop a program to elevate awareness of First Amendment freedoms on campus.

The Western Carolinian applied for the grant to assist with costs for sponsoring a campuswide educational program offered by the nonprofit Student Press Law Center. The program will be scheduled for the spring 2011 semester, said Caudell.