South Dakota State University is known for a few things: like Division One athletics and Hobo Day. But, its student newspaper is also making headlines.
What it takes to make a newspaper is a story in and of itself. From night to early morning, it takes hours of work and gallons of ambition.
But SDSU journalists make sure every letter, every word and every page in The Collegian comes together.
“I love being a reporter. Every day I'm doing something different," Editor-in-Chief Nick Lowrey said.
Lowery helps his staff work on each issue. This week’s features stories about a texting while driving ban in Brookings and Governor Dennis Daugaard's State of the State address.
Lowrey, Managing Editor Marcus Traxler, Advisor Susan Smith and several others when to the Fall Convention of the Associated Collegiate Press last semester and that led to an impressive title.
"It gave a lot of people a good chance to learn more about journalism and see what goes into these conventions and what great work looks like," Lowrey said.
But great work was on their campus all along because The Collegian's homecoming issue on the 100 Years of Hobo Day beat more than 400 other four year universities with weekly newspapers and won Best of Show. The issue featured Hobo Day history, a behind the scenes look at this and past year's event preparations and other big regional and national stories.
"It was, I don't want to say a perfect storm, because that's sort of a cliché. It was a lot of really important things happening at once. You know, we kind of culminated all of our work at one point and it worked really well for us," Traxler said.
It's not like the trophy shelves in The Collegian office are bare. The weekly's won several accolades, including individual pacemaker awards which are kind of like student Pulitzers. But an entire issue winning first place in a national competition was a first.
"It's not like we go out and try to win awards, that's not what we're about. We're about being the best newspaper we can be. If we happen to get an award, that's the icing on the cake," Lowrey said.
"I'm proud every day to work with these students. It's quite an honor," Smith said.
Smith says that pride doesn't come from first, second or third place in any competition, but rather, watching 30 some students work hard to continue a near 130-year-old newspaper's tradition of excellence.
"Excellent students working here, students going on to pursue fairly high profile jobs. For a long time, it was SDSU's graduates that worked at the newspapers, TV stations; that kind of thing. SDSU's journalists kind of became South Dakota's journalists," Smith said.
SDSU has established itself as a Division One school in terms of athletics, and now, Smith feels The Collegian staff has proven itself as a Division One newspaper. Traxler says it’s also a number one resource.
"And when you start to peel back and look at some of these stories, it's pretty special to see what you can find and those people are glad to have those stories told. It's fun to be part of that process," Traxler said.
And here's what the process has taught these journalists: it can mean working until two in the morning, long hours of design and re-design. And they’ll turn around and do it all over again in the following week. But every letter and every word means much more than these pages.
"For me that's what journalism is. You're telling people's stories and you're sharing a part of the world with the rest of the community. You're opening a window to an aspect of the community that maybe everybody is not familiar with," Lowrey said.
And that's more impressive than any national title.
Smith says they plan on entering in the next Associated Collegiate Press Competition this spring when it's held in San Francisco.