Collegiate Times writer Caleb Fleming, of Warrenton, Va., a junior majoring in economics in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has been named the top college reporter in the country by the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP).
The National College Reporter of the Year award is the highest individual honor for a collegiate journalist. The award includes $500, courtesy of the McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Fleming competed against students from Harvard and Yale universities in the four-year college category. The awards were announced Nov. 1 at the National College Media Convention in Austin, Texas. More than 2,200 college journalism students and advisers attended this year's convention.
The ACP's National College Reporter of the Year contest recognizes individuals for outstanding writing and editorial leadership. The judges looked at each reporter's body of work over the 2008-09 academic year. Factors considered included
- Significance and news worthiness of the stories;
- Quality and depth of reporting and quality of quotes; and
- Quality of writing, editing, and Associated Press style usage.
Fleming wrote an in-depth article called "Decadelong disappearance" about Robert Kovack, a Virginia Tech graduate student who disappeared 10 years ago. Fleming spent much of the 2008-09 school year interviewing friends, family, faculty, and law enforcement about the disappearance, which is still unresolved. Fleming has also written stories on Virginia Tech athletics, environmental issues, and campus crime.
In commenting on Fleming's work, the judges said, "We felt the Virginia Tech entry presented the best reporting, in both quality and depth, and included a balance of sources. It was clear the writer has a grasp of what it takes to effectively let their sources tell readers a story, and also back that up with corresponding research. The first piece, 'Decadelong disappearance,' obviously the strongest of the bunch, was well researched and reported, and the tie to college students was clear."
Two other of Fleming's stories were singled out for comment by the judges. "A look inside athletic suspensions" and "After slaying, searches reveal little," they noted, "show the writer to be thorough and are examples of balanced reporting. It's also noted that the writer is consistently conscientious about trying to reach sources, even if they do not get back to him." An archive of Fleming's work for the Collegiate Times is available online.
"It's cool to be recognized, but really I just like to write," said Fleming. "I'm glad my desire for that was able to help showcase Virginia Tech and the Collegiate Times. It's great to see all of the hard work we put in last year be honored in a national competition."
In addition to Fleming's National College Reporter of the Year award, the ACP also recognized the Collegiate Times' advertising staff, College Media Solutions, which won third place for the Best Advertising Campaign. A list of the Collegiate Times' recent awards can be found online.
The Collegiate Times is an independent student-run newspaper that serves the Virginia Tech community. It is staffed wholly by students, who have ultimate authority over all content and personnel issues. Faculty advisor for the paper is Lynn Nystrom, director of news and external relations for the university’s College of Engineering. Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech is the nonprofit parent company of student media divisions at Virginia Tech, including The Bugle yearbook, College Media Solutions advertising, Collegiate Times newspaper, Silhouette literary and arts magazine, Student Publications Photography Staff, VTTV student television, and WUVT 90.7 FM independent radio.
- Virginia Tech News story: "Economics student, Collegiate Times reporter gains national recognition"