Photos: The Krier editorial board. Executive editors Jessica Corbett (front row), Sarah Arnold, Maria Kernychny, and Megan Nauert. Photos: Editors Diana Nuno (center row), Elaine Cannell, and Amanda Schiff. Editors Rachael Clinton (back row), Maggie Brundige, Jordan Jones, Julia Angelotti and Kylie Siebert. Courtesy Photo
by Alex Vickery and Taylor Phillips
KANELAND—The Kaneland Krier, the student newspaper of Kaneland High School, won a first-place award from the National Scholastic Press Association, which gave the publication two marks of distinction for exemplary work: one in coverage and content and the other in leadership.
Erika Berg, who judged the Krier on behalf of the NSPA, wrote that the Krier’s “voice is creative, intelligent and interesting.”
The paper was judged in five areas, and Berg awarded the staff 950 of 1,000 possible points in content, giving the paper a mark of distinction because of what she described as “superb” topic choices.
“I really got a feel for Kaneland as a community through each feature piece, and I was especially impressed with the depth of feature coverage of some of the stories. The juxtaposition between more serious features and light-hearted, human interest ones give the publication as a whole a great variety,” Berg said.
The paper earned 900 out of 1,000 points in writing and editing, an “excellent” rating; 750 out of 800 points in photos, art, and graphics, an “excellent” rating; and 650 out of 800 points in layout and design, a “very good” rating. The paper also earned a perfect score of 500 points in leadership, for which Berg gave the staff a second mark of distinction.
“The news staff is very invested in the well-being of the school and community,” Berg said. “They are respectful to the student body and the staff and offer constructive information, research and opinion throughout the publication … the staff exhibits school pride while still pursuing journalistic excellence. On the whole, this group seems to take chances and get to the heart of whatever topic is being discussed.”
She commended the staff for adhering to standards of professional journalism, press law and ethics.
“This is a group with integrity and a clear sense of honesty and truth,” Berg wrote in the evaluation.
The NSPA award is the third major award the Krier staff has received for the 2009-10 publication. Last April, the Krier staff won the Golden Eagle from the Northern Illinois Scholastic Press Association, which is awarded to the best student newspaper in the division, and in September, Quill and Scroll gave the Krier an International First Place ranking.
It’s also the first time in three years the Krier has competed in the NSPA competition, and journalism teacher Cheryl Borrowdale said she was pleased with the results.
“For a judge to give us a first-place ranking indicates that the Krier staff is producing an exemplary paper and is doing a really excellent job of covering the Kaneland area, ” she said. “I was particularly pleased the judge pointed how ethical and responsible the Krier’s editorial board is in their coverage, because this is a staff that holds itself to high standards and really tries to make good decisions.”
Executive Editor Sarah Arnold said she was proud of the staff’s accomplishments.
“We’ve worked really hard as a staff to put out the best paper we can, and it’s not easy. Producing an issue takes more work than most people realize, so it’s exciting when someone else recognizes everything we put into it,” she said. “I really feel proud of the work that I’ve done and the work the rest of the staff has done.”
Although the judge’s comments were mostly positive, Berg did suggest some areas for future improvement in the categories of writing and editing and in page layout and design.
“A few of the news stories were cluttered with too many quotes or different voices, and they didn’t always bring relevance to the story,” she said.
Berg suggested the staff delete interviews that did not add interest to a story, even if the story contained fewer than three sources, and that the staff be more careful with bleeding elements off the edge of the page and with layering type.
“Using more creative elements would help break up the page layouts,” she suggested.
Arnold said that this year’s Krier staff has been working to improve in these areas.
“Design has been one of our pushes this year, and while we’re still developing in terms of our graphic design and look, we have definitely made some strides this year,” she said. “We’ve been studying the feedback we’ve gotten back from the judges, both here and in our other competitions, and we’re trying to include more visual elements and a wider variety of layouts in the Krier, among other things.”
The first round of competitions for the 2010-11 Krier staff begins in late April. This year’s NISPA competition will be held on April 29 at the College of DuPage, where more than 20 Krier editors and reporters will compete in individual categories. It will be quickly followed by the Illinois Woman’s Press Association’s High School Communications Contest in May.