March 3, 2015

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Dr. Pat Miller, Spectator Senior Adviser

Spectator Wins Three Georgia College Press Association Awards

Pictured are Spectator staff members Stella Henderson, Kenzie Kesselring, Jordan Hill, Aimee Napier, Elan Waite, Jordan Barela, Kristin Whitma, John Stephen, Mike LaGon, and John Preer.

VALDOSTA — The pizza paid off once again for Valdosta State University’s Spectator staff.

The Spectator, whose staff routinely dines on pizza each production night, came home Feb. 7 with three awards from the Georgia College Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

“I don’t know if pizza is brain food, but it certainly fuels one of the best newspaper staffs among Georgia’s colleges and universities,” Dr. Pat Miller, senior adviser, said.  “Most staff members come out of a very small but very intense journalism program here. The awards show how well it works.”

The Spectator won third place for Best Campus Community Service-Editorial Excellence and second for General Advertising Excellence. Mike LaGon, junior art major from Atlanta and Spectator graphic designer, and Alex Tostado won a second place individual award for Best Photograph-News.

Miller said that the advertising award is gratifying because it recognizes the newspaper’s effort to ensure its editorial independence by being able to pay its own bills.

“The Spectator is run by and for students,” she added.

Nine students traveled with Miller, Dr. Ted Geltner, editorial adviser, and Aimee Napier, advertising manager, to Athens Feb. 6-7 to attend the Georgia Press Institute. They attended sessions ranging from first amendment rights to digital advertising.

“We got to talk to so many different schools and see what worked for them,” Elan Waite, Spectator editor-in-chief and senior English major from New York City, said. “It’s fun, but it’s really a learning experience.”

Jordan Barela, digital editor and senior mass media major from Tifton, said, “The sessions were very helpful and thought-provoking. Not only myself, but the staff as a whole, learned a lot about this radically changing profession.”

Students interacted with staffs from across the state, as well as professionals like Jim Zachary, managing editor of The Valdosta Daily Times, and Susan Catron, executive editor of the Savannah Morning News.

“One of the most important things the staff is learning is how profoundly the profession is changing,” Miller said. “I expect to see dramatic changes in The Spectator in the next few months, including perhaps moving to a much smaller physical paper and much more digital interactivity.”

Attending the Georgia College Press Association event were Miller; Geltner; Napier; Waite; LaGon; Barela; John Stephen, managing editor and senior English major from Valdosta; Stella Henderson, photo editor and senior mass media major from Valdosta; Kristin Whitman, sports editor and senior English major from Sylvester; Jordan Hill, opinions editor and senior English major from Alma; Kenzie Kesselring, assistant opinions editor and junior English major from Newman; and John Preer, features editor and senior English major from Atlanta.

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Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals: 

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

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