News Releases

May 24, 2011
For Immediate Release
For additional information: 
Barbara Kerr, APR
Executive Director of Communications and Marketing
Telephone: 360-992-2921

Journalistic excellence leads to statewide honors

Staff members of The Independent
Photo courtesy The Independent
Student journalists for The Independent,
Clark College’s student newspaper, received 20 awards in the
2011 Washington Community College Journalism Awards

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Clark College’s student newspaper, The Independent, captured 20 awards in the annual statewide competition of the Washington Community College Journalism Association (WCCJA).

Clark student journalists received 18 individual awards.  They earned second place in the state for general excellence and in the publication sweeps category.  The awards ceremony was held May 21 at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood. 

The paper won first and second place in the comprehensive or extended coverage category. Student journalists Alex Guardado, Jenny Herrera, Sean Lindsay, Randall Theil, and Christopher Sean Williams won first place for their reporting on the college and community debate over free speech versus hate speech following statements made by a self-proclaimed white supremacist. Patri Bartausky, Maggie McRae, Randall Theil, Jessie Wagner, Alison Williams, and Christopher Sean Williams earned second-place honors for their ongoing coverage of the impact of state budget cuts at Clark College.

According to WCCJA President Michael Parks, judges reviewed 482 entries from the community colleges for 24 categories, including reporting, writing, photography, design and online production.  Ninety-nine awards were presented.  In the general excellence category, newspapers were evaluated on writing, design, editorial leadership, theme and consistency. In the publication sweeps category, points were presented for each winning submission. 

Independent editor-in-chief Katie Unverzagt said, “I am so proud of our staff for the hard work and dedication they have shown this year, consistently informing the college through top-notch reporting.  They are definitely deserving of all those awards."

DeeAnne Finken, journalism instructor and advisor to the Independent staff, said, “It’s been a real honor and joy to work with these young people.  They have demonstrated once again they care deeply about practicing principled journalism and providing their readers with thoughtful coverage of events and developments that are important to Clark.”  Finken added, “While a number of students were honored with individual awards, I want to emphasize that creating a news product of any type – printed or digital – involves a full team.  This recognition from the WCCJA reflects the commitment and dedication of a number of terrific young people.”

The Independent is published every other Wednesday during fall, winter, and spring quarters.  It is available at Clark’s main campus as well as at Clark College at Columbia Tech Center, Town Plaza and WSU Vancouver.  The Independent is also available online at

This is the second consecutive year that The Independent has been honored by WCCJA.  Last year, the paper received 12 awards. 

About the winners 

In all, Clark won four first-place, four second-place, and three third-place awards and seven honorable mentions at the 2011 WCCJA awards.

First-place awards went to Alex Guardado for his profile of self-proclaimed white supremacist Nathan Goncalves;  Juan Luis Cornejo for his headline “Excuse me, What’s the Score?” and Thomas Steffl for his review of the film, “The Social Network.”

Dan Ellertson, Sean Lindsay, and Katie Unverzagt each earned second-place awards for sports news reporting, personality profile and sports feature reporting, respectively. Alex Cochran (multimedia) and Randall Thiel (arts review) received third-place awards.

Seven Independent staff members earned honorable mention.  Awards were presented to Gabriel Hartman and Lisa Higuchi (general news reporting), Dan Ellertson and Katie Unverzagt (sports news reporting), Kevin Vandenburg (sports feature reporting), Randall Thiel and Colton Woods (news photos), and Colton Woods (portrait photos).


EDITOR’S NOTE:  For additional information, please contact Editor-in-Chief Katie Unverzagt at