Spence ‘Voice’ Receives Gold Medal from Columbia Journalism Competition

In another banner year for Spence’s student newspaper, The Spence Voice was awarded a Gold Medal from the prestigious Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s (CSPA) Medalist Critique. The School’s student publication since 1983 made a notable gain on their success last year—their first time in the competition—when they earned a Silver Medal. 
“The paper is engaging and informative about the Spence community, alumni, faculty [and] sports,” the judges wrote in their comments, which include feedback on a number of standards developed by the Association around best practices for student media. CSPA awards gold, silver and bronze medals to outstanding student publications after totaling their scores in each category. For their 2018-2019 issues, The Voice received 860 out of 1,000 possible points, earning high enough marks in every category to win the top honor offered by the Critique. 
“We were so excited to receive our first Silver Medal last year,” said this year’s Editor-in-Chief Emma H. ’20, who worked alongside fellow Editors-in-Chief Eliza Berman and Annie Tan ’19 to more than double the number of issues they produced before entering their first competition. “We knew that we could win a Gold Medal if we continued to improve The Voice,” Emma emphasized. “Building off of the 2017-2018 year, we focused on implementing the judges’ critiques.”
Emma noted that she, along with 11 other Voice editors and over 50 total contributors last school year, carried out several new strategies to further strengthen the publication, including refining their journalistic writing and photography. “I compiled a document filled with newspaper-specific writing tips, common errors and explanations of newspaper terms like ‘lede’ and ‘nut graph,’” said Emma. “This document served as a guide to all writers regardless of their experience.” 
“We also placed a large emphasis on the importance of creating a dynamic relationship between writers and editors,” Emma underscored. “We encouraged the editors and writers to go back and forth before finishing their article.” 
“One of our big initiatives this past year was improving the image quality of our photos and working with student artists,” Emma added, noting that this transformed the “overall aesthetic of the paper.” Emma also recognized Spence Director of Athletics Coni Fichera and Director of Communications and Publications Taraneh Rohani for their help obtaining high-resolution photos for news and sports articles. 
“For the upcoming year, we are working on fixing the minute details and teaching our staff what it means to be an inquisitive reporter,” Emma noted. “Our first step is dissecting the judges’ comments, and making those changes within the paper…. We also have a new position on the editorial board: Art Director. We realized how important the visual side of a newspaper is and want to keep improving this crucial aspect.”
“Overall, we are going to continue our work from last year, and with these changes made, beat our score!”
Congratulations to The Spence Voice on a job well done! 
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About the Columbia Scholastic Press Association
The CSPA is an international student press association uniting student journalists and faculty advisers at schools and colleges through educational conferences, idea exchanges and award programs. Owned by Columbia University since 1925 and operated as a program affiliated with its Graduate School of Journalism, the association offers three major services: 1) annual competitions and awards for members, including the Crown Awards, 2) planning two conventions (one national, one regional) and a weeklong summer workshop at Columbia, plus 3) small press publishing activities to support an e-zine.