Bethel Clarion Wins First in General Excellence

Student staff on the Bethel Clarion, Bethel’s student-run newspaper, have tackled complex issues facing Bethel and our world in recent years. It’s provided them unique chances to grow as people and professionals, and the team has received many awards to reflect their success.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, content specialist

February 18, 2022 | 11:30 a.m.

Emma Eidsvoog ’21

Emma Eidsvoog ’21 works on her story, “Places to breath,” at the Bethel Clarion office on campus. The piece placed third in the Human Interest Story category in the Minnesota Newspaper Association's College Better Newspaper Contest and received an honorable mention award for National Feature Story of the Year from the Associated Collegiate Press. One of Eidsvoog’s favorite memories from working on the Clarion staff was production nights, which produce many fond memories and learning experiences. The staff gathers in the newsroom to work until the latest issue is complete. While it includes hard work and long hours, they often share pizza, mix in spontaneous dance breaks, and work in Clarence the Clar-Bear—the Clarion’s stuffed mascot who is awarded each production cycle to the team’s “All-Around Superstar.”

In recent years, the Bethel Clarion, Bethel’s student-run newspaper, has tackled many complex issues—the pandemic, the election, and more. While covering those issues posed challenges, it also provided many opportunities for the staff of writers, designers, and photographers to learn and develop their skills. And the Clarion’s current and former staffers recently received recognition for that hard work, taking first place in “General Excellence” from the Minnesota Newspaper Association's (MNA) College Better Newspaper Contest earlier this year for their work during the 2020-21 school year. “It makes me feel proud to be a part of that Clarion team,” says Emma Eidsvoog ’21, who served as lifestyle editor last year and won multiple individual awards. “There was so much talent, skill, and determination in the newsroom, but there was also compassion. Each story we wrote and put together with the sources in mind.”

Rachel Blood ’24, editor-in-chief for the 2021-22 school year, says that while she and the staff don’t work for the awards, they serve as a validation of the high-quality work produced by the team. And it shows how their work can make a difference. “I’m incredibly proud of the passion and effort our staff has put in both last year and this year,” she says. Blood, who served as a reporter and then news editor last school year, credited former Editor-in-Chief Zach Walker ’21, former Managing Editor Emma Harville ’21, Associate Professor of Journalism Scott Winter, and Associate Professor of Journalism Yu-li Chang Zacher for their leadership. “Their support and guidance along with their unwavering passion for storytelling ignited the Clarion staff with the drive necessary to produce engaging material,” she says. Winter agreed the staff doesn’t work for awards, but he notes that journalists often only get feedback if they make a mistake or people are angry about a story. “Positive feedback is welcome wherever it can be found. Morale is important,” he says. “Especially considering what they've had to cover the last two years.”

“I’m incredibly proud of the passion and effort our staff has put in both last year and this year.”

— Editor-in-Chief Rachel Blood ’24

The MNA award period spanned a divisive time during the 2020-21 school year. That time included the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, the 2020 election, the pandemic, the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, and more. But Winter traces the team’s work earlier to January 2020, when many Clarion staffers participated in an interim study abroad trip to India to produce Textura, an international storytelling project written and designed by Bethel students. Those students composed many challenging stories around social justice issues, and the pandemic began shortly after they returned to Bethel. “Through that unprecedented time, these students took what they learned about the world, and themselves, in India, and just kept reporting. I think that's the story of these awards,” Winter says.

Along with the General Excellence award, multiple staff members received individual awards for story-writing—see a full list below. And those stories addressed divisive subjects like masking and the election. “Those stories took guts, ethical thinking,” Winter says. “They had to rely on their instincts, their experience, and an empathy that comes from their faith.”

The staff doesn’t shy away from complex issues. “If a story is hard to tell, that means it’s important,” Blood says, who with Molly Wilson ’24 took second place in the Hard News Story category for their piece, “The matter of masks.” Blood says covering challenging topics has helped her grow as a writer and as a Christian. “Although it’s been difficult at times to see the world so torn over the last several years, it’s also provided the opportunity to dive headfirst into the news industry with a vast array of intense topics to report on and write about,” she says. Blood points to a key lesson students learn in Bethel’s journalism program: reporting objectively, ethically, and from every necessary perspective. “Writing pieces on political division, racism and racial reconciliation, mask conflict, and the pandemic in general pushed me beyond the level I thought I was capable of reporting,” she says.

Similarly, Eidsvoog says that covering complex topics helped her recognize opportunities for respectful dialogue. Two pieces she wrote or co-wrote took home awards at the MNA banquet. She won first in the Sports Feature Story category for “Looking back, stepping forward,” and she and Makenzi Johnson ’24 placed third in the Human Interest Story category for “Places to breathe.” Both pieces also received honorable mentions for National Feature Story of the Year and National Sports Story of the Year, respectively, from the Associated Collegiate Press. “Places to breathe” tackled an alum’s sexuality, while “Looking back, stepping forward" tells how Bronson Pe’a ’23 is finding success at Bethel after a childhood marked by tragedy, violence, and homelessness. “I know firsthand how easy it is to let your emotions about something build a barrier between you and the person sitting right next to you,” Eidsvoog says. “I think the phrase ‘always listen to understand, not respond’ is especially important these days. And as a journalist that is my goal.”

The Bethel Clarion staff

The staff of the Bethel Clarion works during a production night. Associate Professor of Journalism Scott Winter calls this one of his favorite recent photos of the Clarion team. Editor-in-Chief Rachel Blood ’24 loves not only how she’s grown as a writer working on the Bethel Clarion, but how she’s also formed close friendships. She notes how Clarion staff meetings often start with fun chats or team-building activities—like what each staffer would name their pet hedgehog—before transitioning into discussions about telling stories around relevant issues and reviewing recent wins and losses.

While students like Eidsvoog and Blood gained valuable experience, Blood is grateful for the memories and relationships students build working on the Clarion. Working with other creative people pushes her to be better, but she notes they’re all people first. “I’ve met the most wonderful friends in the Clarion newsroom,” Blood says. “They are compassionate and creative and independent thinkers, and they make me want to be better not just as a journalist, but as a person.” After graduating last spring, Eidsvoog is looking to continue developing the writing and copyediting skills she honed at the Clarion. “Working on the Clarion built up my confidence in myself and showed me the joys of working on a team,” she says. “And each source taught me how important it is to share your story. My ultimate dream is to travel the world and write stories.” Blood also said Bethel and the Clarion have solidified her calling to tell people’s stories from a variety of perspectives to communicate broader ideas, possibly in the publishing industry.

The latest batch of MNA awards comes after students producing the Clarion and Textura have received many awards in recent years. The Clarion won first in the MNA’s General Excellence category in three of the last four years. Winter describes the Clarion and Textura as a laboratory for students to try new things, pursue their passions, and build portfolios. Their work also includes building websites, managing social media, and producing audio content through podcasts like The Yolk, all of which prepare them to serve in a changing media industry. Winter thanked donor support through The Johnson Center for Journalism and Communication, which supports students through supplemented stipends, equipment, travel, and internships.

To Winter, the students’ work prepares them to enter their careers, where they’ll encounter divisions in our world and confusion surrounding the media. “It's more important than ever to have brave, ethical news sources, particularly in local communities,” Winter says. “It's not easy to do good journalism, but it's crucial to a community, and to a democracy. Many of these award-winners are symbols for that idea.”


2020-22 Bethel Clarion Awards 

From the Minnesota Newspaper Association's (MNA) College Better Newspaper Contest

General Excellence—First Place

Recipients: The Clarion Staff

From the judges: “The powerful use of photos and infographics draws the reader in and brings each story full circle. Each feature is timely and engaging. The Clarion is a powerful example of what can be accomplished by a fine ensemble of journalists and designers. Well done!”

Read The Clarion


Human Interest Story­—First Place

Recipient: Emma Harville ’21 (Major: organizational communication with a concentration in event management; minor: journalism)

Piece: “Stolen moments” 

Read the story


Hard News Story—Second Place

Recipients: Molly Wilson ’24 (Majors: journalism and political science; minor: mathematics) and Rachel Blood ’24 (majors: journalism and English literature and writing; minors: creative writing and graphic design)

Piece: “The matter of masks”

Read the story


Government/Public Affairs Reporting—Third Place

Recipients: Emma Harville and Molly Korzenowski ’22 (Majors: graphic design and journalism)

Piece: “Trump leads by thin margins at Bethel, survey shows”

Read the story


Human Interest Story—Third Place

Recipients: Emma Eidsvoog ’21 (Major: journalism; minor: graphic design) and Makenzi Johnson ’24 (Major: journalism; minor: Spanish)

Piece: “Places to breathe”

Read the Story


Sports Feature Story—First Place

Recipient: Emma Eidsvoog

Piece: “Looking back, stepping forward”

Read the story



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The world and media are rapidly changing, and Bethel's journalism program helps students build a solid foundation of journalistic skills along with a commitment to integrity and excellence. Students build portfolios through classes that focus on hands-on learning, exciting off-campus internships, and workshops with prominent Christian journalists.

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