From the Archives, April 16, 1996: Sun Star staffers capture statewide recognition

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Photo credit: Molly Putman

Some say a newspaper’s success can be measured by the number of letter to the editor it receives. If that’s the case, we may be able to say we’ve had a successful year.

But another measure of a paper’s success is the recognition it receives from professionals in the field of journalism. In this regard, we definitely have something to be proud of. Two of our staff members, columnist Nathaniel-M. Naske and former photo editor Laurent Dick, were recognized for their work this weekend during the Alaska Press Club’s annual award banquet in Anchorage.

Nathaniel–friends call him Than (‘cept he ain’t got no friends)–captured second place in the category for best columnist in a nondaily newspaper.

With an ever-present leather vest and a beard that over the course of a month varies from scruff to sourdough, Than could fit in as easily with longshoreman as with a room full of journalists. However, fortunately for us, he took the less honorable trade.

Early last semester we recognized our readership was down and took a calculated–and some said unorthodox–risk. We introduced a weekly commentary on Page 1–traditionally a news-only page–and titled it “Bad Latitude.” Than–along with fellow contributing editor Jill Swope–rose to the occasion.

Even though Than is responsible for the lion’s share of mail we receive in our office, the compliments still outweigh the criticism. And his award certainly speaks to his talent and quality as a writer.

As for Laurent Dick, what possessed him to work for a campus newspaper will never be understood by the management. An accomplished photographer with experience at the Anchorage Daily News, Laurent was magnanimous enough to join our staff in September for his last semester at UAF.

Erudite, intelligent, and proud of his Swiss-French heritage, he often looked upon his co-workers with amusement. After all, many of us consider the definition of “haute cuisine” a fast-food burger with ketchup and secret sauce. But even though he would often gently rib us for being “ugly Americans,” he consistently shared his expertise and turned in work of a caliber not often seen in a campus publication.

Obviously, the Alaska Press Club agreed. Laurent’s color photo of a lone UAF student walking across campus in December–which graced the front page of our last issue before Christmas break–earned him top honors in the category for best scenic color photo in a nondaily paper.

It should be noted that these awards weren’t just for campus newspapers–they were for all nondailies in the state, of which there are a few. And the Sun Star was the only college paper in the state to capture Press Club honors this year.

Topping off the weekend was the news one recent and one “soon-to-be” UAF journalism graduate also took home Press Club awards. UAF senior Brenda Gibson took third place in the sports photo in a daily newspaper category for her work in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, and Diana Campbell, a 1994 graduate captured honorable mention for her sports feature for nondailies titled “Fairbanks” and played a part in numerous other awards, including the coveted public service award.

As for Laurent, after graduating with a journalism degree in December, he’s gone on to bigger and better things, and we hear he’ll rejoin the staff of the Daily News this summer. As for Than, he’ll be here next year–and probably longer if UAF doesn’t enact a 200-credit limit for undergraduates. Regardless, we’re grateful they were both here for us this year. It’s been a long time since The Sun Star took home any major awards, and there aren’t two staff members we’d rather see bring home the glory.

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