Since 2021 when The Santa Fe Way launched, Todd Vogts has been writing a column that appears in each issue of the newspaper, which comes out monthly and serves the Canton and Galva communities.
On June 10, his writing earned second place in the Division II Column Writing contest as part of the “Awards of Excellence” competition hosted by the Kansas Press Association.
The awards were announced during the 2023 KPA Convention, held June 9-10 at the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the KPA and other journalists for the work I do,” Vogts said. “Honestly, it was a bit surreal. Many news outlets and journalists I respect also received awards, so it seemed crazy to be among those winners. I don’t feel worthy, but I am incredibly grateful for the recognition.”
Santa Fe Way publisher Leslie Manning entered Vogts into the contest, which made it a surprise for him.
“I had no idea I was even in the running,” he said. “When I found out I had won something, I was shocked and elated.”
According to the contest rules, an entry into the column writing contest had to consist of three columns written during 2022.
Vogts’s entry included the following pieces:
- Proposed legislation insults educational practitioners (March 4, 2022)
- Engaging politically requires dialogue with opposing views (Aug. 5, 2022)
- Historic moments add to baseball’s 2022 season (Oct. 7, 2022)
“I so appreciate Leslie entering me in this contest,” Vogts said. “She did a good job of choosing a range of columns that exemplified the different types of topics I tackle with my column.”
According to KPA Executive Director Emily Bradbury, there were more than 2,700 individual entries in total, coming from 74 different categories across seven divisions that are determined by circulation size.
Even if he hadn’t won anything, though, Vogts expressed gratitude for Manning.
“I just think it’s awesome she thinks enough of my writing to even enter it, and I am thankful for the opportunity to write. I love producing my column, and I hope the readers enjoy what I have to say each month,” he said. “More importantly, though, I’m thrilled that she does her part to keep community journalism alive. It is so important, and my hometown deserves to have its history recorded by a local news outlet.”
Several presenters, which included various news publishers and journalists, who spoke at the KPA Convention echoed such sentiments.
Though not a full-time journalist, Vogts found a lot of value in the information and best practices shared during the different breakout sessions, which he hopes to be able to use in the classes he teaches as a journalism professor.
However, Vogts said one speaker stood out — Rob Curley.
Curley is the executive editor at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington. Prior to this, he held leadership positions at The Orange County Register, The Las Vegas Sun, The Washington Post, The Lawrence Journal-World, and The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Growing up in Kansas and earning a bachelor’s degree from Emporia State University, Curley has carved out an impressive career in the world of digital journalism. At KPA, he discussed how he leads his news outlet to engage with the community it serves and encouraged convention attendees to do the same.
“It was inspiring,” Vogts said. “The work he has done is impressive, and I am always in awe of him.”
Vogts first encountered Curley’s work in 2006 and started paying close attention in 2007 and 2008. Vogts was in college at Wichita State University and saw the work Curley had done at The Lawrence Journal-World. By that time, Curley had taken a position at The Washington Post, and that’s when Vogts said he became a devotee.
“I’m a huge fan of Rob. He’s a journalistic hero of mine,” Vogts said. “I’ve always wanted to do the kind of work he does, and now I want to do that through my work as an educator and researcher. Every day I strive to emulate the impact he has on journalism and the communities he serves. If I can even get close, I will be happy.”
In earning accolades for his column and getting to hear Curley speak, Vogts expressed indebtedness to Manning and The Santa Fe Way for the opportunities he has received.
“I hope to continue working with Leslie for as long as she’ll have me. Journalism is thriving in the Canton and Galva communities and throughout the state,” he said. “I’m honored to be a part of it, and I hope people continue to support the news.”