Wilson, Gibbs lead Observer staff in KCM awards wins

Sterling College journalism garnered recognition recently by securing 18 victories in the 2022 Kansas Collegiate Media Contest.

Junior Taya Wilson, of Sterling, and sophomore Shaylee Gibbs, of Amarillo, Texas, came away as individual winners. 

Also, the Sterling College Observer newspaper, which is in its third year as the campus newspaper, received a Gold designation in the overall category. In that category, publications can earn one or none of three overall honors within their classifications that are based upon the type of publication and institution. The top publication across classifications receives the All-Kansas Award.

Gold is the highest designation within a classification, and Sterling faced off against other four-year, private college publications that were judged based on three issues produced during the academic year.

“I’m extremely happy with how things turned out. Getting a Gold after a couple of years where we earned Silver is fantastic, and it still gives us room to improve as we try to achieve All-Kansas status,” said adviser Todd Vogts, assistant professor of media at Sterling College. “More importantly, though, Taya Wilson and Shaylee Gibbs did great. They are wonderful ambassadors of our publication and program. I’m lucky to have them involved.”

Wilson, who is the editor-in-chief of the Observer, earned 16 individual awards, and Gibbs, who is the managing editor of the Observer, earned one individual award. The entire staff shares the overall victory.

“I’m especially proud of the Observer’s Gold designation because I believe it’s a reflection on all the time and energy put into this paper,” Wilson said.

Gibbs agreed.

“I was ecstatic about the Sterling College Observer receiving gold in the competition,” she said. “Taya puts a lot of work into our paper, and our writers strive to get the best stories each month for our readers. I’m glad that others can see the diligence in the Observer as well.” 

Competing against other four-year, private schools, Wilson brought home first and second places, as well as an honorable mention, in the sports/action photography category.

She also secured second place, third place, and two honorable mentions in the news/event photography competition. 

In addition to her photography skills, Wilson showcased her design ability as she took first place, second place and an honorable mention in front page design and honorable mention in newspaper inside page or spread design. 

Wilson writes as well.

She took first place in feature writing and sports feature writing, second place in column writing, third place in sports news/game writing, and an honorable mention in profile writing.

“I am very blessed to have received these awards,” Wilson said. “They are a testament to all the hard work and improvements I’ve made over the years, specifically in writing.”

Wilson credited her mentors for her success.

“As always, I want to thank my mom, Rene Wilson, for the solid foundation she gave me as a journalist and for always encouraging me in my writing,” she said.

Gibbs joined Wilson on the podium by earning an honorable mention in column writing.

“Receiving recognition for my work is always an honor, especially when I am competing against so many other journalists,” Gibbs said. 

The awards were announced during the KCM Spring Conference on April 9-10. 

Students placing in the contest received certificates touting their success, but Vogts said the judging feedback all the students get is even more important.

“There are usually a lot of great suggestions in those comments,” he said. “In some cases, they reiterate things I’ve been saying, which is great because sometimes students need to hear it from someone else for it to sink in. In other instances, the judges say things we hadn’t considered, and that allows us to really grow. I love the competition aspect of contests, and winning is great. However, learning and improving from it is the most important aspect.”

Both Wilson and Vogts said they were thankful for the paper and the reception it’s had on campus.

“I’m thankful for the students and faculty at Sterling College who support the Observer and are willing to share their stories with us,” Wilson said.

The Sterling College Observer publishes seven times per year on the first Monday of the month during the fall and spring semesters. It is a student-led and student-produced newspaper that strives to be a timely resource of information about the Sterling College community. It reports on news, issues, activities, academics and athletics. It also offers a forum for discussion, reviews and commentary. It serves as an effective learning experience for students, who have the final authority over what is published. To read a digital version of the Observer, please visit https://warriorstudentmedia.wordpress.com.