Echo staff report
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The Rochester Community and Technical College Echo swept the column-writing category on its way to winning seven awards Thursday in the collegiate division of the 2017 Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.
Former Editor-in-Chief Zechariah Sindt placed first with column “Communication gap caused hard feelings” in which he examined RCTC’s spending on its centennial celebration. “Zechariah Sindt has a strong finger on the pulse of the campus community and pressing issues, and writes with strong accuracy and thoughtfulness,” according to contest judges.
Jonathan Knecht, now a student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, won second place for a column headlined “Solution to gun violence lies within us.” Judges said Knecht offered “an insightful take on an impossibly complex social issue.”
Managing Editor Jennifer Rogers placed third with a column headlined “Centennial expenditures are worth it.” Judges said Rogers wrote “a great counterpoint to a pressing campus issue, a stance that was undoubtedly not the most popular among students, making it all the more courageous to take.”
Sindt, now a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, placed second in investigative reporting for a series of stories on RCTC’s centennial spending, with judges calling it “a deep dive into the biggest news story of the year on campus.”
Sindt also placed second in editorial writing. Commenting on his editorial “Be free to be offensive — in context,” judges noted that “sensitivities and political correctness puts discourse at risk in schools when trying to teach delicate subjects diplomatically.”
Rachel Halverson, who served as photo editor before succeeding Sindt as editor-in-chief, won third place in the Photo Story category for a full-page layout about an RCTC Art Club field trip, which judges said comprised “a nice variety to tell a story.”
The Echo placed third in the General Excellence category, a noteworthy achievement because it competes against student newspapers from four-year universities. This was the first time a community college newspaper placed in the General Excellence category in the MNA contest since 2011. That year, The Echo placed first.
“I’ve been telling my students that this is our ‘Hoosiers’ moment,” said Echo faculty adviser Dwight Boyum. “In the movie, a small-town basketball team competes against bigger schools in the state tournament. The fact that The Echo placed in General Excellence when we’re up against four-year schools with more resources, is a testament to what a great staff we had last year.”