The Echo has worked to voice stories highlighting both the Taylor and Upland communities — a mission that has produced an award-winning paper, recognized for both its writing and design.
At the Indiana Collegiate Press Association (ICPA) contest on April 1, The Echo won 24 awards, including 3rd place overall in the division three category, for schools with under 3,000 students.
“The Echo team’s recognition at this statewide level is well-deserved,” said Associate Professor of Journalism Alan Blanchard, Echo faculty adviser. “The Echo is made up of a great team of students from a variety of majors. The student journalists work very hard creating compelling, interesting stories of interest to students, staff and faculty. The TU community benefits from their creative skills that include writing, editing, photography, graphic design and more.”
Co-Editors in Chief senior Markus Miller and junior Kay Rideout commented on what makes The Echo unique and why it continues to place in contests year after year. Both Miller and Rideout emphasized the professionalism of The Echo — seen especially in its writing.
“I just think our writing in particular is very hard to distinguish from a daily newspaper you would find in a major city … It's very professional,” Miller said.
The ‘professional’ nature Miller refers to is reflected in the judges’ notes of each piece that was scored.
Judges make various comments on the pieces submitted in the contest, offering advice and suggestions for improvement. In the category “Feature Page Design,” The Echo won first and third place.
“... this page works because it isn’t over-thought. The designer leaned on two solid pieces of art and in turn created a really good piece of feature design,” a judge said.
The professionalism of the newspaper’s design is not limited to certain pieces, but gives it a competitive edge above others in its category. Different from other school newspapers, The Echo is produced on broadsheet, meaning it is formatted like a real newspaper — whereas other student newspapers are produced in a magazine style.
A score sheet from the contest also indicated that specific staff members won for their designs.
Junior Marissa Muljat received awards for both design and writing, taking second place in the ‘Feature Story’ category with Honoring the life of Connor Phillips. Muljat also won first and third place in the ‘Feature Page Design’ category with the Nov. 7, 2022 edition, as well as the April 11, 2022 edition, scored respectively.
In addition to Muljat, senior Kaelynn Shultz won multiple awards for her designs. In the ‘Special Section/Front Cover’ category, Shultz earned first place with her design for Winter Fashion. Shultz also won second place at the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Indiana for her spread designs.
Although Miller acknowledges there are definitely times when the design can be more experimental, he said the audience “just know[s] what to expect” with the consistency of the paper.
Rideout in particular feels encouraged for the future of The Echo. The staff has historically placed high in state and national awards, like taking first place at American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) in 2022, or winning fifth overall for student newspapers nationwide at the Evangelical Press Association (EPA).
“I would just say it’s encouraging to be reminded that The Echo is a high quality paper, and that is being recognized in spaces outside of Taylor University in competitions against other newspapers,” Rideout said.
Miller attributes the success of the Echo to a combination of expectation and leadership. The Echo has been under the leadership of Professor Alan Blanchard, who prioritizes the writing aspect of the newspaper.
“There has been an expectation of solid and structured writing,” Miller said. “And I think that’s kind of been passed on from Echo leadership team to Echo leadership team … as time has gone on. It’s a cultural thing at this point.”
Both Miller and Rideout have expressed excitement about the future of The Echo, and hold no reservations about the staff’s future successes.
“Markus and I are both really proud of our staff team and the quality of work that they’ve produced,” Rideout said. “I think it’s a testament to our team.”