Mock medics carry the “injured” off site to be cared for at Del Mar College Hospital during TIPA’s live press contest’s staged event. Photo by Jessica Brossack: The Signal.
Jessica Brossack The Signal
The excitement in the air was palpable. With whispered questions of curiosity about the outcome, the 2012 Texas Intercollegiate Press Association Awards (TIPA) began in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Taking place from March 29-31, with live on-site competitions, as well as pre-published submissions that were sent in for early judgment, nerves were on high alert. Who would win, and who would go home disappointed?
At 103 years old, TIPA was formed in 1909 with the goals of improving journalism on all college campuses, raising the standards of college journalism, and creating a better relationship between Texas colleges and editors. Initially, there were only three categories the schools participated in; but today there are more than 100, not including more than 20 on-site competitions.
Contests included various categories for photography, radio, television, online, yearbook, magazine and, of course, various newspaper.
UHCL’s student publications brought home 28 awards this year, having competed against many other, larger universities.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be recognized by your peers,” said Ashley Smith, UHCL alumna and former editor of The Signal. Smith won two awards at this year’s competition including first place for Critical Review. “It goes to show what an amazing program this school has when compared to the big campuses. It’s not just one thing—writing or design—it’s everything. Look at all the awards won across the board.”
Director of Student Publications and Lecturer in Communication, as well as the faculty adviser for The Signal, Taleen Washington takes students to TIPA each year. This year it was her editor and assistant editor.
“The classes that produce the student newspaper and magazine are capstone courses for students enrolled in the Communication program,” Washington said. “So the work produced is really a collaborative effort on the part of all COMM faculty and, of course, the students. Each year our students compete against the best in their field and each year our students do very well.”
Washington also helps coordinate and judge one of the live competitions that take place at TIPA. This year it was the public relations release writing contest, part of a staged, live news event.
Students were bussed to a secret location, given brief instructions and shown the way to the ‘stage’. Once the action started, notes were furiously scribbled and photos were hastily snapped of the mock events that took place. The contestants were then were brought back to the hotel where they were given a set of instructions based on the event, and a time limit to write a press release concerning the event.
The event took place at the West Campus of Delmar College at the fire training facility, where a mock explosion and HAZMAT clean-up occurred. It was orchestrated by Director of Student Media at Delmar College Robert Muilenburg. Public relations release writing, public relations crisis management, news writing, news television and news photo were just a few of the contests for which the event was created.
“It was remarkably easy to set this up,” Milenburg said. “I contacted the paramedic department and we came up with the idea, and the fire department ran with it. The goal was to offer a variety of things to cover. It worked out pretty well; I’m pretty happy.”
The conference also included workshops, guest speakers, student activities and an awards breakfast.
One of the distinguished guest speakers was Karen Elliott House. House’s many accomplishments include being a member of The Wall Street Journal, winning a Pulitzer
Prize for coverage of the Middle East, and being named president of Dow Jones’ international group. Since retiring, House has come back to Texas where she originally graduated from UT-Austin.
She offered sound advice for journalism students.
“You can Google anything, but you don’t know the quality of the information,” House said. “The most original reporting is still done by newspapers and magazines. Just remember to learn from the past and the mistakes other people have made.
“Through good reporting, newspapers can make people curious about the things they are supposed to be curious in. It’s all in the context—not just headlines—but knowledge, honest, intelligent, informative journalism called ‘Lighthouse Journalism’ because it lights your way forward.”
Photos and slideshow by The Signal reporter Jessica Brossack.