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'Lariat' editorial staff receives well-deserved national SPJ honors

Sept. 17, 2003

By Jessica Runnels, news editor

Sometimes you have to toot you own horn, and today I'm tooting The Lariat's.

Last weekend The Lariat staff won third-place honors for editorial writing from the Society of Professional Journalists national collegiate competition. The Mark of Excellence Awards showcase the best of college journalism and is one of the highest honors a student publication can receive. We won at the regional level earlier this year, beating out The University of Texas and other large schools to advance to the national competition.

I must admit that I was a bit disappointed at first to hear that we'd only gotten third place. But as I was trying to fall asleep Sunday night the enormity of our accomplishment suddenly hit me.

We won third place in the nation and in a field dominated by public universities with larger staffs and more resources. Wow, this really is a big deal.

As Amber Bradley so eloquently wrote in a column for the welcome back issue of the paper, working for The Lariat isn't easy, and being on the editorial board opens up a completely different can of worms.

The opinion page is the one spot in the paper where we don't have to be objective. In fact we are supposed to be opinionated. But as journalists, and as people who know slightly more about some issues than the average person, we also must be well-informed and thoughtful with our opinions. We don't just write what we feel. We provide the evidence to back those opinions. And believe it or not, we do take into account how our opinions will impact our readers.

With everything that we have to consider, including the fact that the university serves as our publisher, one might think that we'd shy away from addressing some of the more controversial issues plaguing our campus and our world, but we haven't.

Instead, the editorial staff has continuously tackled such issues head-on. No, you don't always agree with us; we often don't agree with each other. But that's the beauty of the First Amendment; everyone's opinions are welcome.

I am so proud to be part of a group of people who wake up everyday and strive to create a well-rounded, fair and balanced publication.

I'm also honored to be on an editorial staff that never looks at an issue lightly and always looks beyond the obvious to consider the different sides of an issue.

When it is all said and done, the news and opinion pieces in The Lariat represent the ever changing character of our university - in good times and in bad.

I almost didn't come to work for The Lariat, and if it hadn't been for a very special person's insistence ä someone whose guidance and patience has geared us toward the journalists that we've become - I still would be working part time at Wal-Mart, while trying to figure out how I was going to get a job in journalism with no experience.

I wouldn't trade the last three semesters for anything in the world. The Lariat staff has become my family, and a diverse one at that.

And like any family we have our ups and downs, and at times some of us have wanted to turn and walk away. But at the end of the day we stay because we're all on the same team, and we're all working toward the same goal - journalistic excellence.

So here's to us gang. We did well.