All three Toreador Media publications, including the La Ventana yearbook and both The Daily Toreador newspaper and website, have been nominated for and won some of college media’s highest national professional honors.
The Daily Toreador is a finalist for the Associated Collegiate Press' Online Pacemaker Award and is also a winner of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association's Crown Award for print.
Not to be outdone, La Ventana, Texas Tech's official yearbook, is a finalist for the CSPA's top Pacemaker Award for the 2017 yearbook for the second consecutive year.
This is the first time all three Texas Tech student-run publications have been nominated for top national awards at the same time.
“We are so proud of the hard-working students and staff of Toreador Media,” David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D., professor and dean, said. “They acted like consummate professionals, covering some of the most difficult kinds of stories that challenge journalists. They deserve the highest praise for their talents and commitments. We are overjoyed that they were officially honored by their peers.”
McKenzi Morris, The Daily Toreador's editor-in-chief, said, “tt's kind of overwhelming.” Morris, a graduate student in mass communications from Allen, has been on the newspaper staff for five years and has held the position of editor-in-chief for the last two years.
“We knew that we were doing good work, especially with all the stuff we had last year that happened on campus. We really prided ourselves on the work we were doing and the content we were creating, but you don't do it for the awards,” she said.
“I know that sounds so cheesy, but that's kind of the last thing on your mind when you're doing your day-to-day [activities],” she added.
In 2017, following national print trends, the newspaper shifted from a print focus to a digital focus, and within a year of doing so has already received positive national attention.
“I think that's just where the industry is heading,” Morris continued. “People say that newspapers are dying, and I don't think that's true. I think it's just changing. The more that we started to embrace that, the better we knew we would reach our audience, and so that was the biggest thing for us.”
The newspaper staff will find out whether they win a Silver or Gold Crown at the CSPA ceremony in March in New York City.
The 2017 La Ventana yearbook won its second consecutive Pacemaker Award. It was one of only six yearbooks nationwide that earned the ACP award last year.
The annual campus publication is edited this year by senior Davian Hopkins, a graphic design and creative media industries dual major from Lancaster.
Under Hopkins' leadership, the yearbook was awarded Pacemaker Awards for both 2016 and 2017. And after taking a break last year from the position, Hopkins is excited to be back working on the 2019 edition, his third yearbook.
“I still try to process it every day,” Hopkins said. “We hadn't won [a Pacemaker Award] since 1996. That was the year I was born, and so it's kind of crazy. When I made these [publications], I definitely did step away from the traditional, or the norm, in terms of how the books looked. I made them more graphic, more visually interesting, so I think that was part of it,” he said. “They just didn't feel like a traditional yearbook.”
Associate Director and Media Adviser Sheri Lewis agrees.
“That's amazing,” she said. “That just doesn't happen. For [Hopkins] to have come back and taken on a third book is so exciting. I think it's a testament to his ability to lead the staff and to share his knowledge. He's so creative and just so cutting edge.”
Hopkins first joined the yearbook staff in the fall of his freshman year, and was promoted to the position of the publication's editor-in-chief only a few months later. Though he started with a background in writing, Hopkins said he discovered his passion for graphic design through his time working on the yearbook.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking to be in that position as a freshman,” he said. “It was a lot of pressure. I was new to campus, so I wasn't really familiar with all that goes on here. But now, having written for the book before I became editor and having seen how things operate here, I feel like it helped prepare me for this position.”
As the publication staffs continue to develop their current projects, both editors work hard to keep the content relevant. The goal, Lewis said, is for student staffers to be able to take their experiences from their time on staff and then use them for their future careers.
“To be honest, I take no credit whatsoever, and I don't really think that any of the professional staff members would either,” Lewis said. “The students do this. We are simply here to support, to advise, to give the resources to get this done. It's all in the students, and they have done an amazing job.
“La Ventana has a national reputation. And it has for the entire time I've been here. It's amazing to work with students who command that kind of respect on a national level,” she said. “It does feel great, but it feels great to see the students be able to celebrate their own victories. I don't count it as my victory. I count it as theirs.”
The Daily Toreador prints on Mondays and Thursdays and publishes online every day. The new La Ventana edition is available for purchase online and will be available for delivery in May. Both The Daily Toreador and La Ventana began publishing in 1925 and have continued to serve the campus community since.
Toreador Media, formerly Student Media, joined the College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech University in June 2017.
CSPA's Crown Awards are judged on overall excellence as a publication, and the ACP Pacemaker Awards are judged on coverage, content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership, design, photography and graphics, according to the organizations' websites.