Chronicle Wins 10 State Awards, Editor Named Editorial Writer of Year


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Castor Basa, Editor-In-Chief

The Chronicle, the student-run online newspaper at the College of Lake County, recently won 10 awards, and its editor was named Editorial Writer of the Year in statewide competition among community college newspapers.

The awards were announced April 14 at the Illinois Community College Journalism Association’s spring conference, which was held April 13 and April 14. The annual contest put The Chronicle in competition with Division I student publications produced at the state’s biggest community colleges. Professional journalists judged the entries, which were published in 2022.

Chronicle editor Castor Basa won several awards for opinion writing, including the first place as Editorial Writer of the Year and another first for news columns. Basa also won second place as well as an honorable mention in staff editorials. 

Editorial Writer of the Year is based on a select body of work, and Basa represents the fourth time a Chronicle staff member has received this honor since the association began awarding it. Previous winners are Anastasia Gustafson, who won it in 2019, and Cydney Salvador, who won it consecutively in 2015 and 2016.

Basa’s submissions that made the Chronicle editor the best editorial writer in the state in 2022 include “The Ultimate Donation,” “Cutting Campus Employment Works Against Student Dreams” and “The Name Change Game.”

The judge commented on the well-chosen topics as well as the editor’s courage.

“I admired how this student journalist bravely disclosed being transgender.” The judge said. “I wonder if such entries would even be submitted in Florida, Texas or other states. Additionally, the author shared relevant information about difficulties of navigating government bureaucracy to change one’s name, and resources available to help people do so. The pieces were informative and inspiring without a hint of vanity. I also liked how the author sought out a distinct opportunity about human bodies donated to the health sciences program and wrote about it in a personal yet insightful way.”

Basa’s “The Ultimate Donation” also won first place in news columns, with another judge crediting the subject and the reporting.

“Good topic about ‘human donors’ — it’s something most people don’t know about, and the author does a good job sharing that,” the judge said. “Very worthy topic for a column, and the author does a great job talking to faculty and others to add value to the story.”

Basa’s other opinion pieces also won individual awards in staff editorials, with “Cutting Campus Employment Works Against Student Dreams” earning second place and “The Name Change Game” receiving honorable mention.

The judge said the second-place staff editorial was “well written” and added that it had “an investigative touch by sharing who was contacted and what they said in response to these excellent questions.”

In giving “The Name Change Game” honorable mention, the judge cited its relevance and narrative approach.

“The relevant subject matter, the mindful storytelling, and the timely yet timeless truths in this editorial set it apart from the other entries,” the judge said. “As a personal column, this piece would rank in first place. The issue of trans-centric challenges needs to be explored more by writers such as Castor, who smartly explained why this particular name was chosen. The photos were a wonderful touch to illustrate the writer’s life, and loving support. I hope Castor keeps writing about this journey, and possibly reaches out to me for my own newspaper column. I’ve written about such trans journeys numerous times, but more are needed to reach the people who need it most.”

Opinion writing earned another award for the Chronicle, with Chase White getting second place in sports columns for “COVID-19’s impact on college sports.”

“Covid affected us all, in so many different ways,” the judge said. “White chose to discuss how it affected his school’s basketball team, and did an excellent job humanizing the story.”

Chronicle staff members won two additional second-place awards for second feature writing and headlines.  

Hailey Decker won second place in features for “Eric Dorsa on how drag has revolutionized their recovery.” Decker was credited for the article’s fresh focus.

“Nicely done — you tell Dorsa’s story well and explain the move to drag performer evolved rather than just focus on drag performances,” the judge said.

“Oasis Upon Us,” the winning editorial cartoon of the year. (Castor Basa)

Current managing editor Brenna Burr won second place in headline writing for ”Softball Star Keeps Swinging,” the headline for her profile of injured CLC athlete Natalie Lother.

“Nice play on words – the headline truly captures the message of the story,” the judge said.

For the second consecutive year, the Chronicle won second place in general excellence for its website. The Mike Foster General Excellence award is a staff recognition for “overall quality of the publication’s media operation,” and the judge cited the publication’s layout and headlines in making the award.

Basa also won awards for artwork, with a third place in editorial cartoons and an honorable mention in graphics. 

“Oasis Upon Us” was the winning editorial cartoon, and the judge called it a “fun cartoon about an issue I’m sure bothered students and staff.” The honorable mention in graphics was for “The Importance of Nyota Uhura.”

In the last 15 years, The Chronicle has won 185 awards, including 44 first places, in the statewide contest.