News Releases

For Immediate Release

April 29, 2014
For additional information:
Chato Hazelbaker
Chief Communications Officer
Telephone: 360-992-2921


Clark College student newspaper sweeps state awards

Members of The Independent earn honors at
Washington Community College Journalism Association contest


VANCOUVER, Wash. – For the second year in a row, student journalists who produce The Independent at Clark College swept the competition in the publications category in the annual Washington Community College Journalism Association contest.

Independent staff also earned honorable mention in the General Excellence category, a designation that recognizes editorial leadership; writing, editing and photography; and content relative to a community college readership.

Seven community colleges participated in the competition that judges print and online work produced during the Spring 2013, Fall 2013 and Winter 2014 terms.

In sweeping the publications category, Independent staffers captured 10 first-place awards, five second-place awards, nine third-place awards and three honorable mentions out of 21 categories, said editor-in-chief Tyler Urke.

Urke won two first-place awards, including one he shared with former editor-in-chief Aleksi Lepisto, who also captured another first. Former Indy staff member Killian Bailey tied for second place in the Individual Sweeps category, winning two firsts and one second, Urke said.

Like professional news organizations across the country, The Independent has been transitioning away from a print-first publication to a digital-first publication, producing news sometimes daily online and in print with less frequency, said adviser Dee Anne Finken. “What’s particularly nice is that the Indy staff finished second in web content, which is where the students are really focusing these days.”

Finken also said the Indy staff swept the multimedia category, a performance that she said undoubtedly was boosted by the multimedia news class Clark added to its journalism curriculum in recent months.

Michael Parks, who coordinates the WCCJA and leads the journalism program at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom in Lakewood, Wash., said participation in the competition has been waning in past years. As a result, advisers are looking to expand the competition next year, possibly inviting two-year schools from Oregon, Idaho and Alaska to participate.

Jim Camin, a former Oregonian editor, serves as The Independent’s volunteer writing coach.  The Independent can be read online at In print, it is distributed throughout the Clark main and Columbia Tech Center campuses.

The staff includes Tyler Urke, Ryan Rutledge, Caitlin Calsbeek, Aleksi Lepisto, Kenneth Zummach, Bradley York, Killian Bailey, Nicole Haney, Esther Manea, Evan Jones, Robert Berman, Tra Friesen, Emma Fletcher, Steven Cooper, Brody Voge, Nate Nienaber, Kait Terrel, Clancie Moffett, Alejandra Magallanes, Zach Lake, Tyler Brown, Nick Books, Cloe Beck, Brittany Koontz, Bri Scharmann, Evan Blatnik, Stephanie LaRue, Jeff Knapp and Boyd Lainhart.