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The Mainstream wins 11 awards in tumultuous year

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The Mainstream journalism staff broke its own record for awards with this year’s wins. The staff took home 11 awards topping the previous UCC record of nine awards for journalism.

These awards were earned for stories published from May 2105 to February 2016 in the state competition sponsored by the Oregon Newspapers Foundation. Annually, ONF runs the Collegiate Newspaper Contest, a competition for all college and university newspapers in Oregon.  UCC competes in Division 3, specifically for all state community colleges.

It’s hard to keep writing about something that affects you personally -Vaughn Kness

The Mainstream competes against community colleges with larger student bodies often with significantly more funding. “This year’s wins are exceptional, not only because of the level of competition, but also because of the many challenges we faced this year: our emergency communications related to Oct. 1, the dark topics we had to cover, being a liaison for students’ concerns all year, staff turnover, and a substantially increased workload with budget cuts. I couldn’t be prouder of this staff and what they accomplished together,” detailed Melinda Benton, The Mainstream adviser.

Design Editor Kayla Towers takes a selfie with other staff members.
Design Editor Kayla Towers takes a selfie with other staff members.

Awards were presented at the University of Oregon May 13, 2016, at the ONF Collegiate Day.  The Mainstream staff and adviser also presented a panel discussion on covering the events of Oct. 1 to state collegiate journalists and their advisers.

The past year has been tumultuous for the staff. “Stepping in to a role that I didn’t expect to be in after only writing for the paper for one term was very unusual,” recounts Alicia Graves, the current editor of The Mainstream. “We put out the first issue the first week back to school after Oct. 1; our previous editor had a very hard time and had to step down.   At the same time, we were trying to keep the family, The Mainstream family, from falling apart,” Graves said.

The Mainstream managing editor is Alicia Graves.
The Mainstream managing editor is Alicia Graves.

“It’s been a rollercoaster of a year.  My health took an extreme turn and continues to be a constant struggle.  There are many heavy decisions that I have to make, often without the staff even knowing about them,” Graves confided. Graves functioned as both a student and a publication editor while she was trying to move on with her own life after Oct. 1.

Vaughn Kness, a senior reporter for The Mainstream added, “It’s hard to keep writing about something that affects you personally, and to have to keep revisiting that.”

Graves will continue working in journalism. “I plan on going to the UO for my bachelor’s and hopefully continue at UC Berkeley for my master’s. I would ultimately like to work for an entity like Time, National Geographic, or for the Center for Investigative Reporting,” Graves said.

For Graves, bringing public awareness to pertinent but underreported topics is a significant part of what makes journalism most rewarding for her. “There have been stories that we have reported on this year that have enacted change.  Hearing that we provided someone with information that they needed made everything worthwhile,” Graves stated.

Graves is motivated by her fellow staff. “Seeing the growth of the staff members I have been working with, seeing them get recognized for their efforts through recent awards is rewarding,” Graves said.

Vaughn Kness went home with four awards for his writing. Two of these awards were first place in state recognitions. “I have been writing since I was six or seven.  I’m still not as good at it as I should be. It’s a constant challenge to the mind.  To be able to create and use things to influence people and affect them has been something I have always enjoyed,” Kness said.

Vaughn Kness shows off all his awards. He won four for his stories.
Vaughn Kness shows off all his awards. He won four for his stories.

Kness had to considerably change his writing style when first reporting. “The first year I didn’t exactly know how to write for journalism. I was more used to writing in a creative style, in flowery language. I had to change my writing style to a journalism format,” Kness added.

However, Kness overcame this stylistic obstacle. “I chose topics that were close to me, movie reviews, art and poetry. As time went on, I then learned how to write for a newspaper by working on the format of lead sentences, transitions and removing the frou-frou language,” he continued.

Kness is particularly keen on writing more reviews for journalism.  “I have shot scenes. I have written scenes. When I can take that to the newspaper, that is really relaxing,” stated Kness.

Like Graves, Kness is also looking to continue journalism as a career. “I saw journalism as a form of writing that I could actually make money off of, as compared to other forms of writing,” said Kness. •

Collegiate Day Awards:

First Place for Best Sports Story- Dustin Barneburg
First Place for Best Writing-Vaughn Kness
First Place for Best Feature Story- Cassie Bauer
First Place for Best Editorial- Vaughn Kness

Second Place for Best News Story-Vaughn Kness
Second Place for Best Sports Photo- Amy Risinger
Second Place for Best Review- Vaughn Kness
Second Place for Best Editorial- The Mainstream (staff)

Third Place for Best Website- Casey Conemac
Third Place for Best Feature Story- Jacob Lebel
Third Place for Best Sports Photo- Hannah Hawkins