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Awards celebrate excellence in journalism

The third annual Otter Realm Awards, recognizing students who have done excellent work in journalism – print, video, photography and page design – were handed out at a campus ceremony on May 6.

In all, 75 students in Liberal Studies, Global Studies, Visual and Public Art, Communication Design and Human Communication entered 90 submissions.

Entries were judged on storytelling ability, technical quality, aesthetic quality, journalistic value and creativity_._

The winning entries were selected by a panel of judges including Dr. William Freivog, director of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University; Dr. Twange Kasoma, faculty member in the School of Communication at Radford University; Doug McKnight, former TV news director and general manager of NPR affiliate KAZU; Cierra Bailey, production and promotions assistant with KOFY television, staff reporter for the Pleasanton Weekly and CSUMB alumna; and Alex Hulanicki, journalism and English instructor at Monterey Peninsula College.

CSUMB’s student newspaper, the Otter Realm, is published six times a semester. It also operates a website where news stories, video and a social media feed are posted. Both the print edition and the website are produced by students in Otter Realm workshop and media production lab classes.

This year’s contest added categories for high school journalists; students from Monterey High, Alisal High in Salinas, and North Monterey County High in Castroville submitted work. Itzet Vazquez of North County High won top honors for the story, What Teachers do Outside of School.

In March, the Otter Romp, a special edition of the Otter Realm that features investigative reporting, was named best special section at the California College Media Association’s annual Excellence in Student Media Awards ceremony. It was one of eight awards earned by the Otter Realm and presented at the annual college journalism conference.

"This is a new phase in the history of the Otter Realm," faculty adviser Estella Porras said at the time. "The awards are opening a new path, a new level of achievement, a new way of envisioning the Otter Realm."

At the May 6 event, editor Elizabeth Hensley explained that the Otter Realm staff is making “a big push with the website and with socia media. We’re live-tweeting events and we’re creating videos for the website” in an effort to go beyond the print edition, she said

This year’s Otter Realm Award winners:

Best opinion piece

Best general reporting

Best feature story

Best photography

Best sports story

Best video storytelling

Best page design

Best piece by a high school journalist

Itzet Vazquez, "What Teachers do Outside School"

(from El Talon newspaper of North Monterey County High)