The Holiday Inn-Lake Buena Vista hotel in Orlando hosted the Florida College System Publications Association’s 57th Annual Awards Conference on Oct. 12-15. Representing 14 community colleges spread up and down the state of Florida—from as far north as Pensacola State College, to as far south as Miami-Dade College—the FCSPA honors the best in collegiate magazines and newspapers at its awards banquet held on Oct. 14.
Keynote speaker, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Lane DeGregory of the Tampa Bay Times opened the awards banquet with a particularly impassioned speech on why someone should consider becoming a journalist.
Mark Anderson, current editor-in-chief of The Patriot Press, was inspired by DeGregory’s emotional speech, which received a standing ovation at its conclusion.
“I had a great time at the conference,” Anderson said, “the individual sessions were helpful and informative, and I especially enjoyed the inspiring keynote speech from Lane DeGregory.”
According to the FCSPA’s printed program, DeGregory, a graduate from the University of Virginia, has taught journalism at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, spoke at the Nieman Narrative Conference at Harvard University, and has won dozens of national awards, including the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.
CF was well-represented at the awards conference, with the college’s campus newspaper, The Patriot Press, and both literary magazines—Imprints (Ocala campus) and In the Write Mind (Citrus)—in attendance. To read in more detail about the FCSPA awards ceremony, please pick up a copy of the October issue of The Patriot Press located in designated areas spread all over the Ocala and Citrus campuses.
Besides the awards banquet, the FCSPA conference featured several workshops aimed at helping the college publications that attended the event improve the many products they publish. Featured workshops at the conference covered such specific, yet diverse, topics as writing and meditation, knowing your audience, social media reporting for the 21st century, what judges like to see and using rubrics for literary submissions.
Many of CF’s own were scheduled to host workshops at the event. Rob Marino, adviser to The Patriot Press, hosted a workshop titled Between the Lines: Covering Sports at a 2-year College, while Melissa Alling, adviser for In the Write Mind, hosted a workshop at the conference titled Blogging for Beginners.
According to Alling’s synopsis, printed in the event’s program, the workshop’s goal was to help beginning bloggers learn the benefits of blogging, while providing tips and examples on how to start and maintain an attractive blog.
James Blevins, staff writer at The Patriot Press, was asked by Alling to co-host the blogging workshop. To read about his experience hosting a workshop for the first time, please read his first-person account here: https://thepatriotpress.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/first-time-is-a-charm/
“I especially enjoyed seeing James Blevins, my former student and magazine editor-in-chief, excel in co-presenting a blogging workshop with me,” Alling said, “James continues to develop confidence in sharing his writing and process with others. It’s a joy to partner with him on projects like this because I know it’s so good for him to get out there and network with other writers and creative types.”
Jack Kelly attended the FCSPA conference for the first time as the current editor-in-chief of In the Write Mind. According to Kelly, the conference provided amazing opportunities to meet professional artists and other magazine staffs, all willing to give tips in order to help improve the production process and overall quality of a publication.
“Some of the biggest takeaways for us were design tips,” Kelly said, “hearing how other college magazines handle their production, and talking to professionals about getting the most out of our magazine.”
When students weren’t engaged with the workshops, they had free time available to enjoy nearby Disney Springs, a short walk down the road from the hotel, or, if a student was willing to get up early enough, some poolside yoga led by instructor, and workshop presenter, Niki Costantino.
“I love that there are social activities built into the FCSPA conference,” Alling said, “it gives the students and advisers the team-building, bonding, and downtime.”
Alling, who attended the karaoke costume party dressed up as Princess Leia, won the best dancing contest while performing a song for the crowd.
“I guess my staff got to see how much I love Hall and Oates, Princess Leia, and goofy, interpretive, 80’s-style dancing,” Alling said, “it felt good to know that they got a kick out of my singing and dancing.”
Story and photos by James Blevins. Top photo by Katelyn B. James.