Last week, my fellow Journalism Mass Communications (JMC) colleagues and I attended the annual Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA) conference in Fort Worth. There we attended seminars on how to improve our craft. We also competed against colleges and universities statewide in on-site and mailed in competitions. As is well known by now, KACU cleaned up, and usually does at this event’s competitions, consistently beating out the even likes of TCU’s prestigious Schieffer School of Journalism. I believe Charlie Sheen put it best when he said, “Winning.”
Now it’s pretty easy to get a big head over this, and many people would. At last year’s awards ceremony in Kerrville, when my name kept getting called for 1st place, I wasn’t sure how I should feel. I’m anything but a conceited or overly proud person, but I had obviously hit a good groove. After I got home, I also began to wonder what I should do as far as my journalistic work from that point forward. It had already seemed like I hit the top… where do I go from here?
Many sports heroes retire when they feel satisfied with their career. But I’ve barely started mine. What’s worse is that you don’t get any judges’ feedback on your entries, so you don’t know where, if anywhere, to improve. There was one mailed in competition that I got 2nd place in: Radio Production, where I entered my weekly radio show, “Eye on Entertainment.” As a result, I changed up its format, and made it a longer, 10-minute show. One of these new format shows won 1st the Gutenberg student competition late last year, so I considered it a success.
Fast forward to last week’s awards ceremony in Fort Worth. I still won awards in each competition I entered, but there weren’t as many 1st’s as last year. “Eye on Entertainment” even got second again in Radio Production. Now, don’t get me wrong. I was still proud of these accomplishments, but the big question in my mind was if I had actually taken a step backward? Was last year a fluke?
After mulling this over the past week, I realized that wasn’t the case. Even if I had a perfect year of placing first in every competition I entered, the competition is going to improve for next year, and the challenge is to always continue to improve with them. I already know of ways to continue to improve my craft for next year’s competition, which would be my last year of eligibility for the contest. More importantly, the professional world is a completely different ballgame, and I have steps to take for my work to make the cut in that hostile environment. So, in a way, I don’t have time to get a big head over the results. I have to reformulate my strategy constantly to keep up with this rapidly competitive battlefield.