Journalism student wins media writing awardBy Alana Norris | 04/19/2015 10:59pm
Alyx Chandler used her soft demeanor and serious convictions to earn the Holle Media Writing Award and $10,000. CW | Amy Sullivan
“When I first interviewed her for [Alpine Living] and interviewed her to join the editorial team, I saw her as a strong writer with personality who would probably fly below the radar unless she really felt she needed to speak up,” said Kim Bissell, Chandler’s International Media Production professor.
Chandler said she enjoys feature writing and hopes to write books someday.
Chandler was born in Asheville, North Carolina, and grew up in Madison, Alabama. She attended Bob Jones High School where she worked on the yearbook and The Eclectic, the school’s literary magazine. Even after working with those publications, Chandler said she did not think about majoring in journalism while she was in high school. She said she just knew she loved to write.
Journalism became intriguing to Chandler because of her curiosity. She said she finds it fascinating to learn about people and their lives. She relishes shining a light on people’s stories and she appreciates the challenge of gaining people’s trust.
“It’s super fascinating to figure out why people do what they do,” she said.
She said she has a goal of making an impact on the world and feels journalism is one way she can make an immediate impact.
Chandler recently won the Holle Media Writing Award based on three stories she wrote and submitted to a committee. Chip Brantley, one of the committee members who read the submitted stories, said he was impressed with Chandler’s distinct voice.
“It felt like the people who were in her stories were real people and not there to serve some purpose for the story,” Brantley said.
All three stories have been featured in Planet Weekly, and Chandler said she encourages everyone to read them because of their importance to society.
Her first story dealt with protests surrounding abortion clinics and the effects their closing had on Tuscaloosa. She said she knows it can be a sensitive subject, but she finds women’s studies fascinating and would love to pursue that area of research further.
“There’s always been a lot of protests here with pro-life people and it’s a really touchy subject,” she said. “It was really hard, but it’s also something that I feel really passionate about. If I could, I would definitely be a women’s studies major as well.”
The second story Chandler submitted was about strippers. She said writing it completely changed her mindset on the institution. Making assumptions is problematic, she said, because every situation is different.
Her final story followed her secret obsession with hiking, and it takes a journey through the Appalachian Trail.
“She also selects topics that challenge readers to think critically or show readers other sides to a given story,” Bissell said. “I think that is important for a writer, and she does that very well. Anyone can re-tell how an event happened, but it takes a real gift to tell a story, and that’s what Alyx can do with her stories.”
Chandler said she will use the prize money to pay for college and put the rest in the bank to possibly use on graduate school.
Chandler often writes for Planet Weekly and has done a little work for The Crimson White in the past. Currently, she does freelance work at the copy desk for The Tuscaloosa News.
Much of her time is spent as an intern for Creative Campus, an arts advocacy organization that works through the community and through campus.
“She is incredibly personable, very hard working, tremendous work ethic, very funny, gets along with everyone,” Bissell said.
Chandler said she sees herself always advocating for mental health and the arts and said she would love to travel the world and bring justice to those stories, but she isn’t sure what form that will take exactly.
“Knowing me, I’ll probably scoot around to a bunch of careers,” she said.