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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

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Letter to the Editor
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CSPA commends Feather for diversified coverage in critique

After receiving the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) All-American award on Nov. 19, 2012, The Feather staff was critiqued by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) and awarded with three All-Columbia honors and a Gold Medalist placement, Feb. 27.

Though the publication was graded in Dec., the critique was worked on by the CSPA judges in Jan., and the plaque was received in the mail on Feb. 27. This marks the first year that The Feather has won the award for the digital media edition, though it received three previous Gold Medalist critiques for the print edition.

Ever since the publication went online in 2001, Feather adviser Greg Stobbe has seen the journalism students take hold of his challenges, thus exceeding his own expectations.

“Over the years, especially since 2005, after going to conventions and workshops, I challenged the staff to add more media and an interactive focus. Each year, the staff themselves, have improved on last year’s ideas, compounding the additions. In each succeeding year, they have gotten better and better,” Stobbe said. “Despite a young staff this year, they have far exceeded my expectations. It’s nice to see that a CSPA judge can see that, too.”

While not all staff members immediately grasp Stobbe’s push for excellence or new ideas, he realizes that each person learns to fulfill their individual position and incorporates a personal style to their work.

“It’s been fun to set the new pieces of expectation in motion,” Stobbe said. “While not all staffers take on the same challenges at the same time, by now, at the end of February, obviously many have taken on the challenge, creating within their part of the paper unique and special pieces.”

The CSPA judging committee critiqued the publication in three different areas: essentials, verbal and visual. The Feather received a total of 973 points out of 1000, awarding the staff with all three Columbian Honors, and a Gold Medalist placement, which required a minimum total of 800-1000 points.

According to the CSPA critique introduction, the CSPA has been using Critiques, or scorebooks, since 1925 in order to analyze various newspapers and magazines. Yearbooks were added to the critique in 1935, along with digital media in 2005.

The Feather was commended for its easy navigation, diversified coverage, multimedia elements and forum for student opinion. In one of the critique comments on coverage, the judge (not named) applauds the staff for using multiple links and pull-out quotes.

“The staff includes read more links; they list numerous related articles,” CSPA judge said. “Stories feature hypertext links, photos with photographer credit, and mini story captions are placed within the stories. Many stories have pulled quotes as well. Impressive! So many digital papers skips two to three of those elements.”

Along with recognizing the inside and outside links within articles, the judge noted that the newspaper’s reporters do well in covering interesting topics, providing engaging stories to read.

“Outstanding coverage in this digital edition,” CSPA judge said. “Your reporters go above and beyond in using numerous sources and developing topics of interest which inform and entertain their readers.”

While the CSPA judges identify the publication’s strengths, they also highlight the areas the staff needs to improve in, specifying various ways to fix the weaknesses. Referring to the interactivity section, the judge mentioned utilizing Twitter on the front page and for active updates on events.

“Consider also adding tweet of the day and running tweets in a box on the home page, then the staff can see what topics are trending,” CSPA judge said. “Try using blogs and tweets to cover events as they are happening.”

The judge suggested that the staff add more photo galleries, slide shows and sound slides to showcase more photography. Another area for development included providing more information to contact each staff member, such as individual email addresses or one staff email.

As the publication’s Editor-in-Chief, junior Tynin Fries feels honored to receive acknowledgement from the CSPA. Due to all the hard work the staff has poured into the paper, Fries appreciates the recognition.

“It has been such an honor to receive this acknowledgment from the CSPA,” Fries said. “The staff and I have all been working so hard to produce as much as possible, especially this semester. So, it’s an incredible feeling to be able to say that we are nationally recognized from both the CSPA and the NSPA.”

Next to the encouragement that Fries received from the CSPA judges, she also values the critiques given so that the newspaper can move forward in advancing its quality.

“The critique was very helpful, critical and encouraging,” Fries said. “I know that the staff will review the suggestions and make our publication even better.”

In response to the critiques, Stobbe says that he consistently tries to maintain the balance of applauding the students for their achievements and reminding them where they are falling short.

“I do tell the staff many of the things that we need to work on,” Stobbe said. “The final piece of this [critique] is that it’s great to see someone else saying where you’re outstanding but also reminding the staff that there are spots to work on and always room for improvements.”

For more features, read the Feb. 22 article, Littleton shares comedy history at Fresno Country Library (PODCAST).

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