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The Northerner, NKU's Student Paper, Picks Up State Awards

Northern Kentucky University’s independent student run news organization, The Northerner, received top honors in two categories from The Kentucky Press Association at its recent convention.

The Northerner was recognized for traditional news stories and for particularly excelling with its innovative cross-disciplinary approach to producing multimedia driven media exposés.    

The Northerner’s staff picked up seven awards in total, including two first place, two second place, a third place, and two honorable mentions in the university division of the 2014 Kentucky Press Association’s Excellence in Kentucky Newspaper Awards.

“These awards, especially those for the digital projects mean a lot because I know where we were a few years ago,” said Nancy Curtis, The Northerner Editor in Chief. “It’s great to see how much we’ve developed and to be recognized for our growth as a news organization,” Curtis added. “We’ve got a really excellent team of people that I can count on, which is always nice to have.”

Richard Cracchiolo, a senior journalism major, won first place in the Best General News category for his story, “NKU fights sexual assaults.” The reviewer described the story, which Cracchiolo wrote while news editor at The Northerner, as an “in-depth look at a very serious subject.”

Cracchiolo said he wrote the story because he felt the campus had a right to know what was going on. "I didn’t think it would be going up for any awards,” he said. "I just thought it was important. However, being recognized is a great affirmation that all of the work, including the filing of open records and the hours spent reviewing documents, were worth it.”

Judges also awarded a first place in the Best Use Of Multi/Social Media category to Web team members Brook Clifford, a junior journalism major; Wyatt Nolen, a senior media informatics major; and Robert Huelsman, a recent electronic media and broadcast graduate. The panel praised the way the team combined video, narrative, photos, interactive maps and other design elements in the first-place winner, “Provost crossed globe on journey to NKU.”

“This profile is vastly enhanced by the multimedia elements,” the judges commented. “I enjoy the way that the individual videos are embedded throughout the story where they logically fit with the text, and the map at the end lends a lot of weight to the idea of the provost's long journey. It loads quickly and smoothly as well.”

Clifford said the collaborative approach created both challenges and rewards.  “Journalists and web designers see the world very differently,” she said. "Given that this was our first major collaborative story effort, it’s even more exciting that our work was given the top honor in this category.”  

In the same category, judges also commended the strong multimedia elements and organization in the second-place winner “The Underground World of NKU Recycling,” produced by former Northerner Editor Kevin Schultz, a senior journalism and English major; photo/web editor Kody Kahle, a senior computer information technology major; and graduates James Lloyd and Robert Huelsman.

“Digital innovation has been our main priority for the past year,” said Schultz. "It’s an area where we see journalism going and we want to be at the cutting edge of the field. We came together and focused on that.  Personally, I learned how to take on a story in all of its elements – and look at a story as a reader experience. Instead of saying, how can I write this story so it’s interesting for people to read, it’s how can I tell this story so it’s visually interesting, or maybe use sound or make it an interactive reader experience."  

“Being part of the College of Informatics has helped change the culture of our newsroom,” said Student Media Adviser and Professor Michele Day. “The college brings together the people from media informatics, electronic media and computer science with people in communication. We’re all in the same building and we see each other in the halls. That environment created a culture where it was easier to be more creative and collaborative in how our students deliver the news."

Other Northerner staff members winning awards were:

  • Mosef Asad, second place in Best Graphic category for the Recycling by the Numbers infographic that ran in both the print and online versions of the recycling package. Asad is a junior visual communication design major.
  • Kody Kahle, third place in Best Sports Picture category for an action shot from an NKU men’s basketball game against Florida Gulf Coast.
  • Kiana Berry, honorable mention in the Best Features category, for a profile of a former NKU student's short film, "My Mom's Motorcycle," in the Best Features category. Berry is a senior public relations major.
  • Matt Spaulding, honorable mention in Best Sports Feature category for his profile of an NKU basketball player who aspires to be like an NBA legend. Spaulding is a senior journalism major.

From NKU