Intercultural journal wins “Gold Medalist” for print and online content

Graphic by Morgan Schleif.

Graphic by Morgan Schleif.

Djembe, Concordia’s Intercultural Affairs journal, received a top ranking from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in January, which gives annual constructive feedback to high school and college-run newspapers and journals.

The CSPA began at Columbia University in 1925 to provide student-run media from across the country with constructive advice for improving their publications. The organization provides critiques for the newspapers, journals and websites submitted to them, and exceptional publications can receive various awards.

Djembe’s 2013 edition received CSPA’s “Gold Medalist” ranking, which is the top rating given by the CSPA. CSPA’s critiques are scored on a scale of 1,000 points, and the Gold Medalist rank requires a score of at least 800. Djembe scored 918.

Amy Watkin, Djembe’s faculty advisor, says the award is a big step forward for the journal, which is now in its fifth year of publication.

“I think because (the journal is) so young it legitimizes us in a way, I guess,” Watkin said. “It makes our staff and contributors feel acknowledged and represented.”

Matt Gantz, who was Djembe’s executive editor last year, agrees.

“It gives the journal a bit of recognition that I think it deserves,” Gantz said. “And hopefully gives it a more prominent name so that other students will be able to join in the future.”

Publications submitted to CSPA can be entered under a number of different categories, which determine how they will be judged and which of their elements will be judged.

Djembe was included in the “hybrid journal” category, which includes journals that publish both print and online content.

Although Djembe received a high score, Gantz said there were still several good suggestions for improving the journal and its website.

“One of the big ones was simply making the website more interaction-based,” Gantz said,
“instead of just being a straight-up online magazine that people can read and do absolutely nothing else with.”

Watkin added that many of the areas cited as weaknesses by the critique were “areas (they) hadn’t even touched yet.”

Changes suggested for the website include adding the ability for readers to post individual articles to social media sites along with allowing comments on web articles.

Rachel Lindgren, the managing editor of Djembe’s current staff, said that last year’s journal set a standard she hopes to emulate.

“We really liked the tone and consistency last year,” she said. “So we’re really just trying to continue in that direction with it.”

Lindgren also said she is not sure yet whether this year’s edition of the journal will be submitted for a CSPA critique as well, though she is open to the idea.

“I think after getting the ranking this year, it’d be exciting to see if we could continue that strong tradition,” she said.

Djembe, Volume V, is tentatively scheduled for release April 23.

Austin Gerth

Austin Gerth is a member of Concordia's class of 2016. He edits the Opinion section. He has worked variously as a pizza cook, night-time dishwasher, caterer and water park attendant. He is a writing major, having determined through his experiences in the working world that he is ill-suited to manual labor. He enjoys ginger ale and no longer owns a poodle. He also writes for The COBBlog, and contributes freelance writing to MPR.

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