Vantage earns first overall award at journalism conference

Apr 24, 2023
The Vantage staff

This story originally appeared in The Vantage student newspaper, April 20, 2023.

Written by: Vantage staff

The Vantage, Newman’s student newspaper, won the coveted All-Kansas award April 16-17 at the annual Kansas Collegiate Media conference, and writers and editors for the paper also earned 24 individual awards.

The All-Kansas award, the most prestigious given at the conference, means that judges determined that The Vantage was the best of the four-year private college newspapers in the state who entered the contest. Judges looked at three different issues of each school’s paper when choosing the All-Kansas winner.

The Vantage also won All-Kansas honors in 2021 and in 2017.

Among the 24 individual awards the paper won this year, five were for first-place, six for second place, six for third place and seven honorable mentions.

Sports editor Matthew Revels earned a first-place award in the general news writing category for his story about Newman’s reaction to the death of student Austin Madubuike in October.

Newman graduate Tejay Cleland won three first-place awards for work he did in the spring of 2022, including in the feature photography category for a photo he took at the lip sync battle of assistant baseball coach Hunter Williams serenading the stands.

Editor-in-chief Alexis Stallard also won several awards, including second place in sports feature writing for a story about athletic teams enjoying more support from the student section and second place in sports news writing for a piece about the wrestling team being affected by injuries heading into the postseason.

Vantage adviser Denise Neil
Vantage adviser Denise Neil

Throughout the 2022-2023 school year, The Vantage staff has been producing a weekly paper with a much smaller staff than usual.

“I’m in awe of the staff,” said Vantage adviser Denise Neil, an adjunct professor who also works full time at the Wichita Eagle newspaper. “We started the school year with five staff members, which soon dropped to four, and somehow, they manage to get a new issue out every week.”

They are dedicated and talented and deserve this award.

Denise Neil

The regular Vantage staff is composed of Stallard, a junior; Revels, a sophomore; and Reiley Bartel and Cole Farquhar, both freshmen. Senior Hadassah Umbarger, though not a staff member, is a regular contributor to the opinion pages.

“It’s really motivating to know that all our hard work over the past year has paid off,” Stallard said. “I’m also really proud of all of the staff for always working hard despite our smaller team this year.”

Alexis Stallard
Alexis Stallard

The Vantage’s two freshmen also both won awards: Bartel got second place in review writing for a piece where she listed must-see horror movies, and Farquhar earned an honorable mention in sports photography for a photo taken when the Jets men’s basketball team took on Wichita State University in the fall.

Umbarger took honorable mention in column writing for a piece about giving up “the infinite scroll.”

Of those on The Vantage staff, only Stallard has taken any college journalism courses. The rest have learned on the job.

Neil said she is impressed that members of the staff took a chance and tried something outside of their comfort zones when they signed up for The Vantage.

Now, not only have they gained valuable writing experience that will help them throughout their careers, but they also have impressive awards to put on their resumes.

“You really can impress employers by being able to say you were on your college newspaper staff,” Neil said. “It lets them know that you have worked under deadline pressure, that you’ve worked as part of a team and that you’ve learned how to analyze different situations.

“Plus, it’s a lot of fun.”

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The Vantage is the student newspaper at Newman University. It’s published weekly, and new issues of the newspaper appear on campus every Thursday during the semester.