The Ferris State University Torch student newspaper earned 23 awards in the Michigan Press Association’s 2011 Better Newspaper Contest this semester.
That is the highest number of awards that the Torch has ever received from an MPA contest.
More than 100 Michigan newspapers participated in the statewide competition, where 2,542 entries were critiqued by the Colorado Newspaper Association. Last year, the Torch won nine awards for advertising, page design and multimedia journalism. This year, that number has more than doubled to 23.
Steve Fox, advisor of the Torch and a Ferris assistant professor in the College of Arts, Sciences and Education, said that this year’s increase in awards was “driven by editorial content” such as design, writing and layout.
“It means that someone else is noticing the good work. It’s affirmation for the improvements that we thought were there,” said Fox, who teaches courses in English and Journalism at Ferris. “It’s good to see a group of professionals acknowledge that hard work.”
Current Torch editor-in-chief Antonio Coleman said that he was very proud of the newspaper’s staff for the earned awards. He hopes that the newspaper continues to improve by becoming more globally aware and by having an even greater campus-wide awareness.
“We don’t speak for the university. We speak for the students. If there is an issue that is big enough to affect the students, we address it,” he said. “Issues change throughout the year. Last year, FSU T-shirts were a big problem. This year may be something different. We want to be aware of the issues. They change every year.”
Coleman hopes that the Torch will “… be aware that these issues are coming and be able to speak on them first.”
Fox said that this is the type of experience that is hard to duplicate in the classroom because it is real work for students.
“It’s the only place to hear true student voices,” Fox said. “It’s real. There are true emotions about it. The Torch has learned how to handle the good and the bad.”
The Torch took second-place honors in General Excellence. This is an award based on the overall newspaper, including design, stories and photos. Multiple editions from last year were submitted for review by judges. Fox noted that this means “Overall, you are doing good work.”
Some additional awards won by Torch staff members include: first place in Investigating Reporting, first in Feature Story, first in “Multimedia Reporting,” first in News Photo, second in Editorial and second in Feature Page Design.
Benjamin Thayer was the 2010-11 editor-in-chief of the Torch.