More than 2,000 students gathered at the conference from all over America and Canada, representing dozens of publications. In the category for best weekly newspaper from a four-year institution, the Advance-Titan finished first for its Oct. 21 issue out of about 30 entrants.
“The kids were stunned,” Filak said. “Crying, not moving… just stunned. I had to poke [one of the students] to get him to go up and get this award. I just gave them all a great big hug.”
He said he wasn’t completely sure how high the newspaper would place, or if it was going to place at all.
“I spoke to a couple contest officials over the years and they’ve told me that the four-year school, weekly paper division is ridiculously hard to win because of the competition,” he said. “Also, I’ve judged contests, I’ve participated in contests and I’ve coordinated contests. You might have a great paper, but a judge might not think so.”
It is hard to foresee the outcome of a newspaper contest, as the new changes and varies from school to school, Filak said.
“The one thing I know is that contests can be exceptionally difficult to predict,” he said. “You might have done an outstanding job, but someone had a better photo or a better graphic or a better story or something along those lines. You do your best and you hope for the best.”
Filak said the entire crew of the A-T is elated about the award and that he is so proud to be the adviser of such a high-spirited bunch.
For me, the award wasn’t the prize,” he said. “For me, the award was seeing how much it meant to these people and how they felt about it. They gave so much of themselves to succeed at this and to be recognized at a national level, it’s just incredible. I can’t say I’ve ever felt that way about anything like this ever before.”