The student staff of Xavier University’s newspaper, The Xavier Herald, brought home 4 major awards from the Louisiana Press Association’s 2016 Better Newspaper Competition. They ranked first in the following categories: best overall website; most effective use of graphic design on a single page and best feature story. The paper as a whole finished third in the general excellence category.

“Students from across the curricula work countless hours to write, photograph, video, design and even distribute The Xavier Herald, and then produce online content,” said Melinda Shelton, director of university student publications. “The staff’s diligence has put The Herald and on the national map, literally,” she said.

The event occurred June 18, at the 136th Annual Louisiana Press Association Convention held in Lake Charles, La. The LPA’s Better Newspaper Competition’s editorial contests range from news story writing to graphic design, while the advertising entries were judged based on design, creativity and effectiveness. This year, the Alabama Press Association judged both competitions. Xavier’s students were selected from nearly 3,000 entries from 58 newspapers, publications and college/university student newspapers. Graphic design major, Nicholas Davison, now in his junior year said it was an honor to win first place for the Gary Hebert Award for most effective use of graphic design on a single page. This is the second consecutive year he won the highly competitive and coveted award.

“I was recruited my freshman year to work on The Herald as a graphics designer, and for two years I’ve been able to showcase my talents and build skills by creating each issue’s front page and then inside design,” said Davison. “I thoroughly enjoy my job and am very excited for all that’s in store.”

Mark Veals, a sophomore and computer science major, became the content manager and designer for in 2015 and is the critical link between the printed and digital realms. His hard work was duly noted, coming in first place for best overall website. "It makes me proud to be on a team that comes together to make something great,” said Veals.

Shelton said the website is an integral part of multimedia training, not only for mass communication majors but also students from other disciplines. Kaelin Maloid’s ‘mad’ writing skills proved to be beneficial. The junior majoring in broadcast journalism took home a first place plaque for her feature story about Todd Juluke, a self-described ex-thug, ex-convict turned social worker in a story titled, “Black Lives Matter, But Not Mine”

While Maloid aspires to be a sports reporter, she knows writing well is crucial to her success whether in sports or news. “This is important to me because it makes me stand out among my peers; anybody can publish an article, but not everybody can be recognized with an award,” she said. “It’s also linked with what I do at Xavier, so I feel like I have brought something back to my university, too.”

The paper placed third in the general excellence category. Journalism professionals judged two editions of The Herald: the March 3, 2015, edition featuring #IAMSELMA and a unity march in Selma, Ala., and the April 21, 2015, expanded edition tribute to Dr. Norman C. Francis. The Grambling University Gramblinite took first place, and second went to the Loyola University Maroon.

These are not the first prestigious awards for the paper and its students. Shelton said she is confident that it will not be the last. Their motto is: “By, for and about students”,  and these awards and dozens more represent how determined they are to do it right– every time” said Shelton. The Xavier Herald faced steep competition against similar newspapers from larger universities.

Other schools recognized were: Loyola University, Southeastern Louisiana University, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech University, and Delgado Community College. The Louisiana Press Association is the official trade organization for Louisiana newspapers and provides representation in the legislature and educational services. LPA’s mission is to unite Louisiana newspapers as a cooperative association which creates and fosters an economic, political, and legal environment where newspapers can compete and flourish as providers of information and information services. Each year the LPA honors the best journalism in Louisiana with its annual awards competition.

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