UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
Staff members of the UW-River Falls Student Voice newspaper recently earned nine awards at the annual Better Collegiate Newspaper Contest. Back row, left to right: Natalie Riddle, Joshua Brauer, and Anna Gunderson. Front row, left to right: Jack Van Hoof, Lexi Janzer, and Ethan Lay. Julian Emerson/UWRF photo.
March 28, 2023 - The Student Voice, the student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, recently won nine awards in the annual Better Collegiate Newspaper Contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation.
The awards – which included three first-place honors – were announced March 24 during the state press association's annual convention in Madison. A total of 220 entries from nine Wisconsin campus newspapers were judged by the Arkansas Press Association.
“I am thrilled by these results,” said Andris Straumanis, journalism program director in the UWRF Communication and Media Studies Department. “Three first places, and so many winners overall – that’s a testament to the good work of these student journalists. I hope that as a result more students will be drawn to getting involved with student media.”
The Student Voice won two awards in the feature stories category. Joshua Brauer, a junior journalism major from Waukesha, won first place for his April 2022 story, "For veterans, American Legion more than just bingo." The story examined what American Legion Post 121 in River Falls means for its members and to its community.
His story had special meaning to Brauer, who is a military veteran himself. That link to fellow veterans likely helped his story subjects feel more at ease with him, allowing him to write a more insightful story, Brauer said.
“I never thought this story would win,” he said. “I just wrote it from the heart. To see it win this award, it is kind of astounding and very gratifying.”
Student Voice Editor Jack Van Hoof, a junior English major from Hudson, won second place in the feature category for his November 2022 article, "UWRF one of 14 colleges to offer sustainable justice minor."
The newspaper also garnered three awards for in-depth reporting.
Anna Gunderson, a senior communications major from Roberts and Student Voice general manager, won first place for "New pantry tackles food insecurity on campus." The story, which reported on Freddy’s Food Pantry, was published in February 2022.
Van Hoof earned third place for his September 2022 story, "UWRF rebrands to emphasize recruitment," and Student Voice Assistant Editor Lexi Janzer, a junior from Mayville who is double majoring in journalism and criminology, was accorded honorable mention for her October 2022 story, "Amazon show 'The College Tour' to feature UWRF."
Former Student Voice Assistant Editor Charlie Swanson, of Hugo, Minn., won first place in sports writing for his April 2022 feature, "Junior breaks longstanding 1977 track and field record." The story covered Lexi LeFever and the school record she set in the 100-meter dash. Swanson is now a reporter for the online Hastings (Minn.) Star Gazette.
Former editor and alumna Isabella Forliti, of St. Paul, won third place in public affairs reporting for her April 2022 story, "Students, faculty petition against custodian outsourcing."
In column writing, the Student Voice won two awards. Janzer earned second place for her December 2022 opinion piece, "UWRF new animal policy 'lets the dogs out.'" Staff member Natalie Riddle, a junior psychology major from St. Paul, earned honorable mention for her February 2022 article, "Question for the culture: Valentine's Day Edition."
Staff members described their strong bond and credited their awards to their colleagues’ commitment to doing quality journalism. They said they feel proud of their work, especially given that the Student Voice has only nine staff members.
“Even though our paper staff is small, we are putting out quality work and it shows,” Janzer said. “Covering a whole campus with only nine people is something that not everyone can do. I think (the awards) show that hard work and sleepless nights pay off.”
Janzer and others also credited Straumanis for providing guidance and pushing them to think about issues critically.
“Straumanis is a huge help with everything from gathering information to perfecting our paper layout,” Janzer said.
The Student Voice is published during the academic year, appearing monthly in print as well online at uwrfvoice.com. The paper was founded in 1916.