Oak Leaf’s sweet 16: Student newspaper wins 16 JACC awards


Courtesy of the Oak Leaf

The Oak Leaf staff wins general excellence for their dedication to fine journalism.

Luke Heslip, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Oak Leaf staffers won 16 awards at the annual NorCal conference of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges Sacramento State University hosted Nov. 7.

Santa Rosa Junior College’s Oak Leaf staff received awards in four on-the-spot competitions and received 12 more from submission categories from spring 2015, including overall general excellence, an honor the conference only extended to four publications.

JACC has three major annual events; two regional conferences in Northern and Southern California respectively in fall and a joint convention in spring. The association has more than 40 member colleges.

The day-long event featured five deadline competitions, three of which Oak Leafers either placed in or won.

Co-Editor-in-Chief Faith Gates took first place in the news writing competition while Managing and News Editor Maci Martell finished fourth. The news writing competition centered on Cristi Hegranes’ keynote presentation. Hegranes is the founder of the Global Press Institute and Global Press Journal, a nonprofit which trains and employs women journalists in developing countries such as Rwanda.

“The news writing competition was tough and I really didn’t expect to win anything. It really taught me that it is possible to write stories right away and that’s what we need to do in this day and age,” Gates said.

Web Editor Rebecca Dominguez won third place in the editorial cartoon competition and Photo Editor Daniel Kong received honorable mention in the news photo and caption contest.

“I think it’s easier for photographers and multimedia people to network from the very beginning at these types of events because photographers have this thing where you can just point at somebody’s camera and say ‘dude nice lens’ and you have a conversation,” Kong said.

Several Oak Leaf alumni won recognition for their efforts last semester. Former Co-Editor-in-Chief Nate Voge took first and third for two editorials. Two term Layout Editor Chantelle Bogue clenched first and fourth for editorial cartoons and third place for an informational graphic. Spring 2015 Opinion Editor Dominique Crawford won best column writing and longtime Sports Photo Editor Joseph Barkoff won fourth best photo essay.

Current Layout Editor Catherine Ramirez and Social Media Editor Austin Burmester jointly won third place in video journalism for a video feature they made about student athlete concussions in spring.

“I didn’t know the video was entered so I was quite surprised when my name was called,” Ramirez said.

Sports Editor Parker Dangers-Oncken ranked second for a sports game story, Arts and Entertainment Editor Estefany Gonzalez won third place for a non-profile feature article and Photo Editor Daniel Kong took second for news photography.

More than a dozen workshops and lectures accompanied the competitions, ranging from broadcast journalism to reporting on tragedy.

“It was great hearing from seasoned journalists what the state of the industry is and why they are still so interested in the news,” said Oak Leaf staff writer Brendan Dorsey.

Multimedia Editor Kyle Schmidt felt some of the workshops at JACC were discouraging. “I learned I should quit journalism because there are no job opportunities,” he said.

Overall, the Oak Leaf staff enjoyed the convention. “Going to JACC is fun and uplifting because you’re surrounded by unique people who share your passion for true journalism,” Martell said.

The Oak Leaf staff will attend JACC’s state conference March 2016.