Northern Illinois University’s student-run newspaper, the Northern Star, surged onward through a challenging 2020 with awards and additional accolades for its staff and advisor.
The Star made a banner year out of the difficulties posed by shifting to an online-only operation during the pandemic, adjusting to a more splintered readership that has been largely off-campus, and dealing with declining advertising placements due to COVID-19 constraints. Staff amassed a total of 15 recognitions — 11 awards and four honorable mentions — in the Illinois Collegiate Press Association’s Awards announced in February.
Also in February, Northern Star Advisor Shelley Hendricks was named the ICPA’s president, having previously served as vice president. Hendricks says the Star has a reputation that brings prospective Huskies to NIU, and a new sports journalism minor will offer more opportunities for students to gain experience covering athletics programs at a Division I college.
But, as Hendricks puts it: “We draw from all majors — whether it’s history, political science, English or journalism. People who are interested in the human story often find their way to us.”
One such student was Northern Star news editor Kierra Frazier, who joined the Star in 2018 as a freshman English major. Now double majoring in journalism and political science, Frazier has completed a slate of impressive internships at outlets including Northern Public Radio, the Chicago Sun-Times and The New York Times’ prestigious Student Journalism Institute.
“I initially wasn’t interested in journalism … I knew I wanted to do something with writing, which is why I was an English major,” said Frazier. “But I didn’t know much about journalism until I joined the Star. I just found it really fun to interview people, and talk to different students on campus about things that they’re passionate about.”
Frazier has shared her own passions, too, most recently speaking on a panel titled “Mental health for Black student journalists” at the virtual National Collegiate Media Convention in March. She says she’ll be leaning toward the job market but also considering an advanced degree after she completes a summer internship at news startup Axios and graduates in December.
The Star will resume printing at least once a week this fall, and is available at NorthernStar.info, on a variety of social media channels or even in your inbox. Currently, the paper is recruiting an editor in chief for the upcoming semester, and students can apply for a variety of newsroom jobs.