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SIPA names the Shield ‘All-Southern’

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Issue 1 and Issue 2 Cover

The staff of The Shield learned last week that it had earned an All-Southern rating from the Southern Interscholastic Press Association.

The rating is the highest that SIPA awards its member schools. This rating is the first that the 2016-2017 staff has received for issues published this school year. It also marks the first time in 13 years that the staff has earned this distinction.

“It is obvious that The Shield is the product of a superior scholastic journalism program which values judgment, sound research, and proficient writing and editing,” the SIPA evaluator wrote in summary. “Content balances interesting aspects of MAC culture and life beyond campus. Your readers are fortunate to have this publication available to them. … Congratulations on your excellent work.”

Co-editor in chief Rachel Wolleben said the SIPA recognition validated the hard work that she and her staff mates put into publishing the paper.

“Getting the newspaper out on time and formatted in our style takes a lot of cooperation between the staff and hard work from a lot of different people,” Wolleben said. “Everyone says that the newspaper is dying and that nobody cares about reading it, especially in high school, but a lot of the things we write about are important. The fact that the judges see us treating those issues in the right way is really cool.”

Wolleben’s co-editor in chief, Julie Robertson, agreed. Robertson said that the SIPA evaluation “shows that our hard work in finding stories that no one else can tell is paying off.” Robertson added that the paper tries to connect each of its stories back to McCallum students in some important way.

The staff received All-Southern evaluations in the following categories: features, news, opinion, sports, photography and graphics, and design and presentation. The staff received a superior rating, the second highest rating, in the advertising category.

The evaluator made this specific comments in each of the assessed categories.

Advertising: “Apparently ad revenue is not essential to your operation as relatively little space is used for that purpose. Send a photographer to your advertisers to make the ads an integral part of the page. Ad clients will love it.”

Feature: “A variety of interesting and/or important topics are given feature treatment: ‘The Great White Hype,’ ‘Hayden Price: Fire and Ice’ and ‘Half Nelson.’ The whole People section is well done, [including] photo features like ‘The Real Teachers’ Pets.’ … Continue to choose feature story ideas that bring your readers knowledge and experiences that are new and fresh.”

News: “‘What the bell?’ does a good job of explaining the rationale for the confusing A/B schedule. ‘AISD, MAC Caught in a Numbers Game’ does a good job with data and interview content, and with infographics. ‘It’s (Amazon) Prime time’ appears in People, but is a news story, and a very good one.”

Opinion: “From ‘The Making of Moana’ to ‘What is Aleppo?’ [there is] something for everybody in the opinions section. ‘Liberty and Justice for Some?’ probably stirred conversation. What kind of feedback did you get? The print Shield does not have letters to the editor. Is the online format interactive?”

Sports: “Rock climbing makes for a good sports feature. Memorable Austin-MAC Moments and ‘Once Upon a Rivalry’ must have been fun to research. Great idea to cover the rivalry over the years [rather] than focusing on the current season, game by game.”

Photography and Graphics: “Excellent work in this area. … The contrast on black-and-white photos could be brighter.”

Design and Presentation: “The Shield is beautifully designed.”

To see the two issues that The Shield submitted to SIPA, please click the links below.

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