Sonoma State Star wins top award at statewide CNPA journalism competition

The Sonoma State Star, the university’s student-run newspaper, was honored Saturday by the California Newspaper Publishers Association with two first-place awards in the college division, including a First Place award for General Excellence.

The Star also received a first place award in the column writing category for the work of Opinion Editor Olivia Hunt.

The judging for general excellence was based on two editions, including one that editors of the Star raced to have on campus newstands the first full day of class following the October fires. The edition including coverage of the fires and its impact on Sonoma State University, which was closed for nine days. To read the issue, click here.

“Strong, strong news coverage under tough conditions, “ the judges said. “Interesting opinion pages. Good writing. Clean copy. Very good photos. Good sports pages.”

In both categories the entries were evaluated alongside journalism produced at two-year and four-year universities in California. Second place went to the UCLA Daily Bruin.

“To come in as a finalist against some of the best journalism schools in the state, let alone win first place, is a tremendous feat for a small campus newspaper,” Editor-in-Chief Shannon Brown said. “It just shows that if you have the drive, it will reflect in your content no matter the size of your audience.”

These are believed to be the first honors the Star has received as part of the coveted CNPA competition.

“I could not be more proud of the editors, writers, photographers and other staff members who have set a high standard for themselves, a standard that was particularly evident during some challenging times this past year,” said Paul Gullixson, faculty adviser to the STAR. “Their hard work has paid off, and I don’t think they will ever forget this experience.”

The two columns by Olivia Hunt in the column-writing category included one on Feb. 14, 2017 about efforts by Republicans in Congress to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren. (“Nevertheless she persisted”)

The other from May 16, 2017 was on President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. (“Trump abruptly fires FBI Director James Comey”)

The judges noted: “An excellent example of quality writing. Well researched, organized and clear. Important and timely subject matter. Well done.”

A number of local newspapers also were recognized at this years CNPA awards ceremony for their work during 2017.

The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa took home 12 first-place awards, including top awards for general excellence and its print and online breaking news coverage of the October wildfires.

The newspaper also won four second-place awards and 11 other recognitions.

The Sonoma Index-Tribune received 12 awards, including four first-place awards. These included awards for public service journalism, writing, editorial comment and news photo.

The Petaluma Argus-Courier took home 11 awards, including three first-place honors for breaking news, local government coverage and photo.