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Student Media Earns Top Honors

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The Eagle and AmLit editors pose for a group photo in 2012.
From left, AmLit editors-in-chief Morgan Jordan and Kaitie O'Hare with The Eagle editor-in-chief Lindsey Anderson. Photo by Eric Hian-Cheong, The Talon.

Literary Movement

It’s been a good year for AU’s student media organizations.

From renovation of the WVAU radio station to the appointment of experienced journalist Adell Crowe as coordinator for student media and communication, groups like ATV and the campus newspaper The Eagle saw major improvements that garnered off-campus honors.

Morgan Jordan and Kaitie O’Hare spent the past year as editors-in-chief of the student literary magazine American Literary – or AmLit. The pair’s efforts earned the literary journal second place in the nation at the 2012 College Media Advisers awards this spring.

“It was really exciting because this was first award AmLit has won, and it was a national award,” Jordan shares. “We knew our magazine was really fantastic. That’s why we’re so devoted to it. It was great to see that other people in the literary field agreed with us. It made us really proud.”

While AU educates wonks of all walks, the award may come as a surprise for an institution best known for its Schools of Public Affairs and International Service. AmLit pulled many of its 600 creative writing and visual arts submissions this year from those students in creative majors, yet Jordan believes the magazine’s success and quality material has been a campus-wide effort.

“I think that even [School of International Service] majors have an artistic side. You just have to tap into that and let them know that there is an outlet for that side of them,” she says. “I think everybody creates art in some way, or should. It’s healthy. There are a lot of really talented artists here. They’ve been able to find us, and we’ve found them too. We really do reach out to everybody.”

News Makes News

AmLit, however, wasn’t the only AU student media group attracting honors this year. The Eagle also earned regional recognition, winning college-level Mark of Excellence Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Editor-in-Chief Lindsey Anderson says the handful of awards, spanning first place in feature writing to third place for breaking news photography, owe much to the paper’s coverage of the tenth anniversary events commemorating 9/11, vigils, and historical investigations.

“There were just extensive interviews. The entire news editorial staff pulled together to do these,” she explains. “Also, we have one writer who is very talented at going back into The Eagle archives and the AU archives and painting a historical picture about what that day was like. There were two writers that did that. It was really beautiful.”

The first-place finish for The Eagle will push the weekly publication into the running for a national Mark of Excellence Award this June. Anderson, a graduating School of Communication senior, worked tirelessly over the past year to improve the paper, increasing content from an average of 12 pages to 24 and instituting a 24-hour policy on posting time-sensitive pieces to The Eagle’s website. She hopes the changes will continue after her tenure and emphasize varied ways of conveying news to students.

“More multimedia content,” she says. “It’s one thing that I’ve really tried to implement. It’s one thing I learned from [Professor] Amy Eisman’s class in SOC, that convergent media approach to storytelling. Not every story is best told in text.”

Practical Awards

Aside from receiving recognition for their hard work and achievements, members of AU’s student media groups gain valuable experience in their respective fields.

“The great thing about student media here is you’re not only going to get great internships while you’re at American,” says Crowe, a former journalist for USA Today, “you’re going to get some great student media experience. That’s what I think they really like about it.”

With The Eagle, staff writers interviewed top politicians like John Huntsman, while Anderson – who was involved with the paper from her freshman year – learned about working as a journalist, from writing features to serving in the top spot of an award-winning publication. Even AU alum and NBC’s Meet the Press host David Gregory credits his time as a WVAU DJ as a formative experience of his career.

Jordan, an SOC graduating senior who co-managed 35 AmLit staff members, will carry confidence from her literary journal’s success into the working world, where she looks to pursue a career in fashion publications.

“I’ve been interested in magazines since high school,” she says. “Being able to run a magazine and deal with the production, the budget, a staff, making people meet deadlines, and all that, I noticed I could do that. It’s something I can see myself doing in the future. It’s something I’m definitely capable of. That was very exciting to realize with AmLit.”

So, while the awards certainly deserve note, perhaps the most valuable thing these media wonks have received is the experience they can take into the professional market after graduation.

Hear about more honors for The Eagle here.