There were plenty of mistakes - on everyone's part that year. Sometimes I was too lenient. Sometimes I was too stern. Students spelled headlines wrong, botched layouts, failed to produce stories in a timely manner, etc,.... Overall, I was confident they were learning.
While awards are not the best sign of a great publication, they can be a sign of something good going on. During the second year (2007-08), things really started to improve. Most of that credit goes to a dedicated staff. Some people joined the returning Collegiate staff and together really made an impact.
There have been a couple of nice validating moments: 1. The paper's web site won first place in the state's community college newspaper competition and the print edition was third (no other paper was honored in the top three for both print and online). 2. The Collegiate won the prestigious Apple Award during the College Media Advisers spring national convention in New York City (due to a hotel scheduling problem, staff members were robbed the opportunity to accept the award on stage). 3. The Collegiate was recently named a finalist for the Associated Collegiate Press' prestigious Pacemaker Award.
Awards, on their own, do not prove excellence. However, there's no way all three of these organizations are wrong. The Collegiate stands out.
I could not be more proud of the students who put so much into the paper. I can't think of anything more satisfying than to watch students being successful.