Gibbs brings home KCM contest victories

Sterling College journalism garnered recognition recently by securing four victories in the 2023 Kansas Collegiate Media Contest.

Junior Shaylee Gibbs, of Amarillo, Texas, came away as an individual winner.

Also, the Sterling College Observer, which is in its fourth year as the campus student media outlet, received second place in the overall category. In that category, publications can earn one or none of three overall honors within their classifications, which are based on the type of publication and institution. 

“I’m glad to see our work paying off,” Gibbs said.

The top publication in each classification received the All-Kansas Award, and Sterling faced off against other four-year, private college publications that were judged based on three issues produced during the academic year.

“I’m extremely happy with how things turned out. Getting second place still gives us room to improve, but it is a testament to the work the students do, especially since there are only a couple of them on staff at the moment,” said adviser Todd Vogts, assistant professor of media at Sterling College. “More importantly, though, Shaylee Gibbs did great. ”

Gibbs, who is the editor-in-chief of the Observer, earned three individual awards by securing 2nd place in three writing and reporting events that included “Column Writing,” “Event Coverage Writing,” and “Headline Writing.”

“I’m so proud of Shaylee. She’s a wonderful ambassador of our publication and program. I’m lucky to have her involved,” Vogts said. “She’s the Obserer’s rock. The constant. She’s self-motivated with a nose for news, and I have loved seeing her continue to improve and grow as a journalist who seeks out stories and keeps the campus community informed.”

In 2022, Gibbs won an honorable mention in column writing, so this year’s victories showcase her growth as a reporter and writer.

“Receiving recognition for my work is always an honor, especially when I am competing against so many other journalists,” Gibbs said. 

The awards were announced during the KCM Spring Conference on April 16-17. 

Students placing in the contest received certificates touting their success, but Vogts said the judging feedback the students get is even more important.

“There are usually a lot of great suggestions in those comments,” he said. “In some cases, they reiterate things I’ve been saying, which is great because sometimes students need to hear it from someone else for it to sink in. In other instances, the judges say things we hadn’t considered, and that allows us to really grow. I love the competition aspect of contests, and winning is great. However, learning and improving from it is the most important aspect.”

The Sterling College Observer recently transitioned away from its print publication to focus on digital offerings. It now publishes weekly online during the fall and spring semesters. It is a student-led and student-produced media outlet that strives to be a timely resource of information about the Sterling College community. 

It reports on news, issues, activities, academics and athletics. It also offers a forum for discussion, reviews and commentary. It serves as an effective learning experience for students, who have the final authority over what is published. 

To read the Observer, please visit, and subscribe to the Observer’s bi-weekly email newsletter called The SCOOP, which can be found at

Also, the Observer operates a 24-hour online radio station called SCOR. People can tune in at

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About toddvogts 827 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at or via his website at