Talon Marks Pacesetter

Victor Diaz

Talon Marks received the Pacesetter Award at the 2010 Journalism Association of Community Colleges’ state convention on April 10. This award is given to the top four college newspaper publications in the state.

The newspaper received this award less than a year after the print edition of the publication was on the brink of being cut due to Cerritos’ budget restraints.

According to Rich Cameron, Talon Marks’ advisor, this is the first time the newspaper has received this award in the 54-year history of its publication.

Paul DeBolt, Contra Costa College’s newspaper advisor, as well as someone who, according to Cameron, played a pivotal role in the fight to maintain Talon Marks’ print edition, believes that Talon Marks winning the award shows that the fight was well worth it.

“It just shows how close Cerritos came to losing a really great thing. Winning the award just proves that the program is excellent and that it’s worthy of the expense that there is for running the program,” said DeBolt.

Elieth Koulzons, Talon Marks’ Editor-in-chief, believes that winning the award is an expression of all the work the staff shows week after week.

“I think it just goes to show that we’re not in here taking it like a regular class. It shows that we’re a real newspaper and it’s amazing to be ranked among the top four college newspapers,” said Koulzons.

Koulzons also went on to say, “All the work that we’re putting in here is paying off. Not only is it giving us experience as far as what we want to do in the industry, but it also shows that we’re dedicated, hardworking and very committed individuals, not only as students or people, but also as journalists.”   

Out of the 47 schools that attended the convention, the Pacesetter Award was given to just three other schools, which were Contra Costa College, LA Valley College and Mt. San Antonio College.

The criteria for deciding the winners of the Pacesetter award required that the recipient had won either an Online General Excellence Award, an award which Talon Marks received, or a Print General Excellence Award as well as the individual success of the respective staff’s writers.

Some of the staff that contributed to Talon Marks’ success by earning an award at the convention included:

•    Editor-in-chief Elieth Koulzons:
o    Third place, News Story Writing
•    Multimedia Editor Ashley Aguirre:
o    Honorable mention, Profile Feature Story
•    Honorable mention, Inside Page Layout – Broadsheet
o    Meritorious Award, Video Journalism
o    First place, Feature Photo
•    News Editor Joey Berumen:
o    Third place, News Judgment and Broadsheet Layout
•    Online Editor Rick Gomez:
o    Honorable mention, Sports Writing
o    Second place, Front Page Broadsheet Layout
•    Copy Editor Mark Murray:
o    Fourth place, Copy Editing
o    Second place, Sports Writing
•    Former Editor-in-chief Tanya Bermudez:
o    First place, Mail-in Advertising
o    First place, Magazine Photo
•    Cartoonist Moses Lopez:
o    Honorable mention, Mail-in Editorial Cartoon

Along with these awards, the team of Gomez, Aguirre and Arts Editor Megan Winters won first place in the Team Feature competition with their presentation featuring a young man who pays off his student loan debts by impersonating Michael Jackson on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In a statement released by JACC President Jay Seidel regarding Talon Marks’ big win, Seidel said, “Earning this award is a testament to the high caliber and quality work produced by the journalism students at Cerritos College. The hard work and dedication by the Talon Marks staff in order to provide information to the campus community is an example of what JACC is all about.”

As well as winning the Pacesetter, Online General Excellence and the numerous individual awards, Opinion Editor Samantha Robinson was also elected JACC Southern California Student President.

Talon Marks has been invited by the Cerritos College Board of Trustees for public recognition during one of their upcoming meetings. This type of recognition is usually reserved for championship-winning athletic teams on campus.