Haskell Indian Leader student newspaper wins 14 press awards, including first-place award for general excellence in 2020 | News, Sports, Jobs



photo by: Haskell Indian Leader

A past issue of the Haskell Indian Leader newspaper is pictured in this contributed photo. The Native American Journalists Association announced this week that the Haskell Indian Leader staff had won 14 awards, including the first place award for general excellence for 2020.

In a year in which students at Haskell Indian Nations University were sent home to study remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Haskell Indian Leader student newspaper not only continued to get a paper out, but produced award-winning work.

The Native American Journalists Association announced this week that the Haskell Indian Leader staff had won 14 awards, including the first-place award for general excellence for 2020. Rhonda LeValdo, the faculty adviser for the newspaper, said when students were sent home to learn remotely in March 2020, she wasn’t sure how the paper was going to survive.

But her students kept reporting the news — the paper has changed to online only while students are off campus — and LeValdo said the paper was able to continue getting information to Haskell students who were spread across the country.

“For me, I’m like, ‘Wow, we made it through the year and were still able to get information out to our students,’” LeValdo said. “And that to me was the really important part.”

In addition to the first-place award for general excellence, the Haskell Indian Leader staff received three first-place awards, four second-place awards, three third-place awards, and three honorable mentions, according to a Haskell news release. Seven students won awards for their work: Jared Nally, Connor MacDonald, Delila Begay, Joseph Singh, Makayla Sloan, Zachary Arquette and Marklin Morales.

Two of the first-place awards went to Nally, who won best news story for “Student Safety Jeopardized by Violation of Fifth Amendment” and best sports story for “Fightin’ Indians.” Arquette won first place for best environmental coverage for his story “Uprooted: Decaying Trees Plan to be Repurposed.”

This is the second year in a row that the Haskell Indian Leader has gotten the first-place award for general excellence, and LeValdo said the paper has won the award at least five times over the past 15 years. LeValdo said that’s despite the fact that Haskell offers only a two-year, 15-credit hour multimedia communications program and competes against universities with full journalism programs.

“To me it says a lot about our students, because we don’t have a journalism program and we’re competing against other universities that do,” she said.

LeValdo said students can transfer to journalism programs after attending Haskell, and that students have done so, including two who have graduated with master’s degrees in the past two years.

“They are doing more, and I just think that’s awesome,” LeValdo said. “And then we have students that work for their tribal newspapers, that are writing. We are providing the people for tribal newspapers to do that, and so that’s exciting to me.”

The Native American Journalists Association announced the awards on Wednesday, and LeValdo said there would be a virtual awards ceremony in September.









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