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The Carletonian

Columbia Scholastic Press Assn. awards The Lens Gold Crown

<rleton’s independent, student-run magazine of politics and culture, was recently awarded the Collegiate Magazine Gold Crown award from the 32nd annual Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA), the highest recognition possible from the institution.

This is only the most recent addition to The Lens’ steadily growing number of accolades; the magazine has in recent history also received a Gold Medalist ranking from the CSPA, a First Class ranking from the Associated Collegiate Press and Second Place in the National College Newspaper Convention’s Newspaper of the Year Award.

The CSPA, founded in 1925, is an organization under the auspices of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.  It has been evaluating and awarding student publications in differing capacities since its inception, though the Gold Crown Award first appeared in 1982. This year, according to the CSPA, 1,558 magazines, newspapers, yearbooks and digital media sites participated in the competition, submitting themselves to evaluations of their writing, editing, design, content, concept, photography, art and graphics. The Lens was one of just six college magazines to receive a Gold Crown Award.

To be eligible for the award, The Lens must renew its CSPA membership every year and submit copies of the latest issue to the organization. A panel of judges then critiques the magazine and awards it a score out of 1000 points; awards are designated based on both the critiques and the total points awarded.

In 2009, The Lens received an impressive 995 points as well as comments about the magazine’s “outstanding quality,” said Susan Blaylock ’10, one of The Lens’ chief editors and its business manager.

“We found out about the award from the CSPA, who sent us a cool huge framed plaque. We all had to restrain ourselves from jumping up and down when we saw it,” said Anna Losacano ’10, another of The Lens’ chief editors. “It’s really exciting to receive this award because so many people work on making The Lens what it is. We spend a lot of time trying to make sure The Lens has compelling articles, that it looks great and that people see it and read it, and winning an award is just a nice way for everyone to get a pat on the back for their hard work.”

The Lens was founded in 2005 “through the sheer willpower of a group of Carleton students,” Losacano said. In the hopes of creating a forum for students to express themselves through feature writing, Taylor Valore ’06 and Anna Duchon ’08 worked with alumni to start the magazine. Its first issue was published in winter 2006, and The Lens has continued to be published bi-annually since then. Each issue has a featured theme; past themes include “Neighborhoods,” “Behind Closed Doors” and “Stranger.”

The magazine consists of content, design and business teams who manage different aspects of publication. Over 85 Carls are involved in producing The Lens, and the host of individual perspectives found in each issue contributes to the magazine’s distinctiveness.

“There are so many interests and stories that Carleton students have, and our past issues reflect the creativity and passions held by them,” said Ellie Camlin ’10, a chief editor. The Lens staff is “strong and committed to producing an interesting, engaging and continually innovative magazine,” she said.

“I’ve definitely learned the most from working on The Lens than any other activity at Carleton,” said Losacano. “What I love about The Lens is that it never gets boring and you never can just sit back and relax. There’s always new ideas, we always have new writers, so it’s always dynamic and exciting. [These are] some of the most fun and creative people at Carleton.” Indeed, Losacano added, potential future themes include “Taste of Canada” and “GaGa.”

The Lens’ next issue, “Vision,” is coming this spring.

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