Simpson Sweeps: Best News Media Organization, College Journalist of the Year

By Rosa Gude ’19

There’s nothing fake about this news: the Simpsonian won 2017 News Media Organization of the Year and senior Alex Kirkpatrick was named Student Journalist of the Year at the Iowa College Media Association’s annual awards banquet on Feb. 1.

In a dominating night for Simpson journalists, students collected 19 awards, including nine first-place showings. The field consisted of 12 Iowa colleges and community colleges, including Drake, Wartburg, Loras and Buena Vista.

“One of the things that I’m proudest of is that we won in such a diverse number of categories including news-writing, feature writing, opinion, design, and multimedia,” said Mark Siebert, assistant professor of multimedia communications and faculty adviser. “This diversity is something we stress at Simpson so you can be able to do a lot of things.”

He said the success of this year is a result of hard work from past Simpson students.

“I think that it (success) is from the foundation that was laid by so many good journalists that have graduated from Simpson,” he said. “When you see how good the people are before you it’s easier to emulate that kind of quality.”

Kirkpatrick, who is from Indianola, was named the 2017 Pat Pisarik College Journalist of the Year for a collection of work. He joins Simpson alum Steffi Lee ’15, who won the award in 2015.

Senior Laura Wiersema, the editor of the Simpsonian, guided the prize-winning paper while collecting four awards herself. The Simpsonian is believed to be the nation’s oldest, continuously published student newspaper.

“I’m still in shock,” Wiersema said. “I’m really proud of all the work our staff did. I hope we can continue to do all the things we did in the last year and that this becomes a legacy.”

Siebert said the awards are nice, but that’s not why students become journalists.

“I tell students journalism is not a contest,” he said. “You don’t do it to win awards, you do it to tell stories and to inform your audience of what’s going on around them. However, it is nice to have your work recognized as some of the best in the state.”

Here’s the complete list of award winners:

The Simpsonian – 2017 News Media Organization of the Year

Alex Kirkpatrick – 2017 Pat Pisarik College Journalist of the Year

First Place

Best News Story – Alex Kirkpatrick (Two police officers killed, both Simpson grads.)

Best Feature Story – Laura Wiersema, ID Magazine (Crafting a Masterpiece on putting together a play)

Best Headline Writing – Alex Kirkpatrick

Best Opinion Writing – Laura Wiersema (Simpson needs a nurse)

Best Page 1 – Blake Willadsen (Trump wins election)

Best Magazine Cover – Blake Willadsen (ID Spring 2017)

Best Online Design – Alex Kirkpatrick (private college enrollment)

Best Online Edition – Alex Kirkpatrick

Best Use of Social Media – staff

Second Place

Best Feature Photo – Jayde Vogeler

Best Sports Story – Laura Wiersema

Best Sports Feature – Alex Kirkpatrick, Emily Carey, Randy Paulson, Austin Hronich

Third Place

Best News Photo – Jayde Vogeler

Best Investigative News Story – Alex Kirkpatrick, Emily Carey, Randy Paulson, Austin Hronich

Best Profile – Madi Wilson, ID Magazine

Best Review – Zoe Seiler

Best Editorial Leadership – Ashley Smith, Laura Wiersema

Honorable mention

Best Feature Photo – Austin Hronich

Best Multimedia Slide Show – Alex Kirkpatrick, Emily Carey, Randy Paulson, Austin Hronich