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National journalism distinction is a historic first for Nexus staff

By Victoria Dragstedt

Dave Winter, Nexus adviser and Southerner co-adviser, sat at a computer in the kitchen of his father-in-law’s 100-year-old home in the Texas hill country on Dec. 21.  He was checking his email when he spotted a message from Mark Murray, a member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown Award judges panel.

The message congratulated Winter for advising a staff that had been nominated for a 2012 CSPA Crown Award. This was good news but not a huge surprise as The Southerner, Grady’s newspaper, had received the same good news in six of the past seven years.

Reading further, Winter noticed that the e-mail asked for him to submit sample page designs from The Southerner and from Nexus, the school’s journalistic magazine. Winter was bewildered at first but then it finally hit him: both publications had been selected as Crown Award finalists.

Nexus was as one of 35 high-school magazines to be named a Crown Award finalist.  The distinction marks the first time in the eight-year history of Nexus that the publication has been named a finalist for one of the top three national awards for excellence in scholastic journalism.

The panel selected Nexus as a 2012 finalist after reviewing the four issues the staff published during the 2010-2011 school year, but Winter saw a much wider group of students as responsible for the recognition.

Winter stressed that this honor belongs to every student over the past eight years who committed time, energy and effort to launching Nexus as a new publication on the Grady campus and to making it a worthy complement to the excellent publications that are well-established parts of the Grady journalism program.

It hasn’t always been easy for evaluators to know what to do with Nexus, a cultural magazine that doesn’t fit in the traditional categories for journalism competitions.

“Nexus is like that one thing you order on the menu because its different and you’ve never tried it before,” Winter said. “Some judges think it’s the best thing they ever ordered; others wish that they’d ordered more conservatively.”

Approximately one third of the 35 magazine finalists will earn Gold Crown Awards at the annual CSPA Convention in New York on March 16 at Columbia University.  The other finalists will receive Silver Crown Awards.

“I’m not going to be upset if we don’t win [a Gold Crown] because we’ve already won,” Winter said.  “It’s just a matter of winning more.”

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