By Ashleigh Bugg
Members of the newspaper and yearbook staffs returned from the annual Texas Intercollegiate Press Association convention in Ft. Worth April 4-6 with more than 50 awards.
The Bells won 31 TIPA awards as well as Society of Professional Journalists awards for Region 8, an area that covers non-daily collegiate newspapers for all of Oklahoma and Texas.
In the best all-around newspaper category, The Bells took home second place, and junior public relations major Christian Hernandez won first place in sports writing.
The Bluebonnet, the university’s yearbook, won 23 awards total at TIPA, including an honorable mention for overall yearbook excellence.
Sophomore elementary education major and yearbook editor Kathryn Smith won first place in the academics package category. Junior nursing major Mariana Jauregui placed second for her sports feature photo.
The Bells staff members also acquired accolades from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association winning 24 print awards and four online honors.
Senior mass communication/journalism major and Bells editor-in-chief JC Jones won first place in the in-depth reporting category.
“My personal awards were great, but I’m most proud of how the staff did overall. It has been an honor to work with such a talented group of journalists,” she said.
The TIPA convention hosted workshops on topics ranging from finding jobs in the journalism field to current social media trends.
Students were encouraged by learning tips to find internships and ways to incorporate 3-D photography in newspapers.
Participants at TIPA attended the Hall of Fame Induction luncheon Friday, April 5. Renowned reporter Kathleen McElroy was instated and delivered a short speech. Despite her small stature, McElroy commanded the room as she spoke to aspiring journalists about the necessity of thinking critically.
“We’ve been programmed to accept certain things…. You must think ‘why are people telling you what they are telling you?’”
McElroy urged students to remember that every situation has a backstory, and it’s imperative to use unique quirks and past experiences to their advantage.
“When I started I had a superpower…. I was a black woman who knew sports. There needs to be diversity of thought. It’s about getting out of your realm.”
Bob Ray Sanders of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram also had inspirational advice for young media.
“We don’t need more pretty people…. We need you to be committed to the truth. We need passion and compassion,” he said.
Instead of taking stories at face value, TIPA participants were encouraged to pay attention to details and know their history. Although critics sometimes give journalism a bad rap, mentors like McElroy and Sanders believe young people will usher in a new era.
“Journalism has been given a premature death,” Sanders said. “But looking at you today, I see a bright future.”