City Times participates in 2009 JACC Convention

Roda Marie Catapang

Images of smiling happy young faces embedded themselves into the minds of hundreds of journalism students and advisers as their eyes were fixed on the slideshow presentation before them, some wiping away tears, all hushed into somber silence after learning that the images were of children who fell victim to child abuse-related deaths in the Sacramento area.

And so began the 2009 Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC) State Convention, which ran March 26-28 at the Doubletree Inn in Sacramento.

The slideshow accompanied keynote speaker Marjie Lundstrom’s welcoming address to aspiring journalist as she shared her experiences as an investigative reporter and discussed the importance of the media in society.

Lundstrom, who currently writes for the Sacramento Bee, was honored with a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for her series of stories that uncovered numerous unreported child abuse-related deaths, leading to allegations of mishandlings and corruption within the Sacramento Child Protective Services, who currently are under grand jury investigation.

Immediately after Lundstrom’s speech, students from the over 60 community colleges in attendance began filling in meeting rooms and ballrooms to participate in four concurrent workshops and one contest held that first night.

Eight City Times staff members were among the many who participated at the JACC convention.

“There was a wide selection of workshops that covered various aspects of the industry,” states Andrew Murphy, who found the workshops informative, useful, interactive and fun, “at the same time professional.”

Workshops ran continuously throughout the day, offering courses such as “Press Conference Etiquette” and “Internships in Journalism,” and students were able to select workshops to attend that interested them in the varying fields of newspaper writing, broadcasting and magazine writing, as well as in the fields of design and photography.

Rigorous on-the-spot competitions provided a realistic view into reporting in the professional world of journalism and mass media communication, giving the students the opportunity to attend various local events and having only a short turnaround time to complete tasks in categories including news writing, critical review, opinion writing, sports writing, copy editing, news photography and many more.

Also held during the convention was the election for the new JACC student representatives.

Michelle Olson of Chabot College won the position of Student President, while Southern California Regional Student Vice President went to Brandon Hensley of Glendale College and Northern California Regional Student Vice President went to Anttwan Stanberry of Skyline College.

The new student representatives promised future JACC attendees delivery on multiple issues, including better representation at JACC meetings regarding upcoming events, improved workshops and a more structured and informative website.

A conference meeting attended by students and advisers, immediately following the election, became heated when topics turned to the bleak JACC budget and the proposed increase of membership dues from $200 to $500 per college.

“After one and a half hours, someone in the audience stood up and motioned to end the day’s session,” abruptly ending the meeting, noted City Times photography editor, Carlos Maia. “I was like, wow, that’s it? That was the fastest ending to a meeting this big I’ve ever been to before,” Maia adds in describing the agitation of the attendees at the meeting that ran well after its one-hour mark.

The convention closed with its award ceremony dinner that was held in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom. The usually casual-attired student journalist arrived looking classy and ready to dine, accept awards and celebrate.

“I didn’t care that I was wearing white shoes before Memorial Day,” joked City Times staff writer Nathan Hipple. “I wanted to represent my team in style.”

The highlight of the dinner was the announcement of competition winners.

City Times took home several spring state awards, including second place to Shevaun Brandom and David McAtee for their fall 2008 issue’s front-page layout, honorable mention to Heather Richards for profile feature story and general excellence newspaper for City Times.

Friendly rival Mesa Press also received recognition for general excellence newspaper, as well as multiple mail-in contest awards, including first place to Megan Looney for opinion story and honorable mention to Christina Moran for the same category, as well as honorable mentions to Johnny Ngo for critical review and to Kenny Kinder for sports game story.

City Times staff correspondent Andrew Murphy received on-the-spot honorable mention for his participation in the broadcast competition.

Of significant note, City Times staff writer and copy editor Vanessa Gomez received third place in the on-the-spot news writing contest.

“I didn’t think I would win something like that in my first writing competition,” Gomez states, adding, “It really took Roman [Koenig] saying, ‘You’ll never know unless you try’ to make me do it,” when describing her hesitance in participating in the news writing competition.

With regard to Gomez’s win, adviser Koenig exclaimed, “It’s fantastic! In fact this is the first time we’ve won anything on-the-spot since we’ve been coming to these [conventions].”

The JACC Southern California regional convention previously held Nov 14-15, 2008 at CSU Fullerton boasted numerous awards for City Times as well, including newspaper general excellence and online general excellence; first place to Michele Suthers for editorial cartoon; first place to Shevaun Brandom for tabloid front page layout; fourth place to Whitney Lawrence for tabloid inside page layout; second place for City Times Editorial Board for editorial writing; and honorable mention to Heidi Stenquist for news feature story.