The Advocate won the highest community college journalism award in the state for 14th year in a row and 27 individual awards at a convention in Burbank from March 22-25.
Held annually during the spring semester, the Journalism Association of Community Colleges State Convention is a three-day conference devoted to community college journalism in California. The convention, which alternates between Northern and Southern California, offers workshops, meetings and contests in which hundreds of students compete for awards.
“The convention is exciting,” Editor-in-Chief Sam Attal said. “You get to see how other colleges and professional papers deal with similar situations.”
The most notable award won by Contra Costa College’s student newspaper was the Pacesetter, a sweepstakes award presented to four community college newspapers each year.
Each individual award won at the convention gets a certain number of points and those points accumulate toward the Pacesetter. The Advocate has won the top prize award 15 times, 14 years in a row.
“It shows consistency and the work ethic of the students,” The Advocate’s adviser Paul DeBolt said. “It shows that they’re talented and good at what they do.”
Sports Editor Malcolm Lastra agreed.
“I’ve never been to a competition where the group won so many on-the-spot awards,” Lastra said.
The Advocate staff barely had time for rest as it competed in competitions and attended workshops.
“I slept no more than 10 hours during the convention,” Attal said.
Editorial Cartoonist Marci Suela said students were working around the clock, from early in the morning until after midnight all weekend.
“Some people think it’s a vacation, but it’s not,” Suela said.
The trip to the JACC conference was Suela’s first. This is her first semester on the newspaper.
Working alongside Social Media Editor Jared Amdahl and photographer Sayra Hernandez, the three collaborated on an advertisement which was judged by professionals in the bring-in category.
The trio won second place for the Online Advertisement.
Suela said she didn’t expect to win anything, but was happy nonetheless.
Lastra also won an honorable mention for his on-the-spot coverage of a lacrosse game in Los Angeles.
Lastra said he did not know what to expect and thought his chances of winning in the competition were slim because he never covered lacrosse before.
Sports Editor Rodney Woodson participated in several on-the-spot competitions, including one in which he and writers from other colleges were taken to The Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles to find a feature story within four hours.
Woodson wrote a profile about one of the employees who worked as a make-up artist in Hollywood for more than 20 years. He earned second place for the on-the-spot Feature Story.
Woodson also won first and second place in the mail-in Sports Game Story category, which he said he is most proud of.
Associate Editor Alexandra Waite competed in three on-the-spot contests and won an honorable mention in each category.
Opinion Editor Adam Oliver won the highest of four scholarships awarded, worth $750. This was Oliver’s first award in his five semesters on the paper.
“I was shocked,” Oliver said. “I knew right then that I wasn’t going to be disappointed with the weekend.”
Attal walked away from the convention with eight awards, including two first place awards for audio slideshows he worked on with Woodson and Associate Editor Brett Abel.
The three worked together on slideshows on the CCC dental assisting program being cut next year and another during the convention on a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization that rescues injured racehorses from slaughter.
Lastra enjoyed the company of his colleagues outside of the newsroom.
“This is the closest I’ve been with The Advocate staff,” Lastra said. “We created a family-like bond.
“Hopefully this chemistry can sustain for years to come.”