Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Tower co-editor wins newswriting award

    Britt Hart won second place in Newswriting at the annual Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC) state conference on April 11 in Sacramento.
    Hart was a first-time attendee at the annual convention. She and the Tower delegation were among 37 California community colleges and nearly 500 students to participate. 
    Hart was pleased with her place in the on-the-spot contest.
    Britt Hart with award from JACC“I was really happy with second place because I didn’t originally intend to compete,” she said. “I was really surprised.”
    Newswriting is one of the few competitions at the event where the story comes to the writers. A speaker on online safety for teenagers, Thomas Dobson, CEO of Above the Fray, came to the convention and spoke with competitors about his organization’s work. Audience members were allowed a total of three questions, no interviews and no Internet.
    Competitors were then ushered into a room next door and given 60 minutes to write, print and edit their stories.
    One might expect a conference of this size to provide Chromebooks or to allow competitors to use personal laptops. But if a competitor’s school did not provide school laptops, she was required to use an Alpha Smart 3000.
    Alpha Smart, a keyboard with small screen that allows the writer to view five lines of text at once, are foreign to most young writers since the technology was discontinued in 2006.
    “It’s confusing to figure out where you are in your document and how to organize it using the Alpha Smarts,” Hart said. “When I wanted to change something, I had to delete one letter at a time, since I couldn’t figure out how to select an entire word.” Hart demonstrated by tapping her finger on a table repeatedly. “It’s such a pain to use.”
    Hart said she was proud of her performance in the contest and her instructors were, too.
    Burt Dragin, Tower advisor and Journalism Department Chair, was proud of Hart as well. “It’s a great honor, especially writing under that kind of deadline,” he said.
    Scott Strain, adjunct journalism instructor and Laney advisor for the JACC field trip, also expressed enthusiasm. “I’m just very, very happy with her,” Strain said. “She did good work under an insane deadline.” 
    Strain also emphasized the real-world practical applications of this type of competition. “This is exactly what you do when you’re a news reporter,” he said, referring to the deadline. “Just add in people yelling all around you and the minute-hand ticking away.”
    Overall, Hart and her Laney teammates spoke highly of the conference. “It was really fun,” said Hart. “I was really happy to have the opportunity to go and to represent Laney. We have a reputation of being the underdog and there were so few of us there. I was happy to win something for the Laney team.”

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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