Army AL&T magazine leads fourth annual writers workshop and ALTies awards ceremony

By May 17, 2016December 6th, 2017Best Practices, Events
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By Ashley Tolbert

FORT BELVOIR, Va.—The Army AL&T magazine editorial team held its fourth annual writers workshop May 11 here including interactive forums and guest speakers—all focused on helping magazine contributors develop and share impactful articles, photos, ads and graphics.

Writer's Workshop 2016

James Christophersen, left, and Katie Morgan, center, both from the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems, discuss the evolution of an article submitted to AL&T magazine with Peggy Roth, magazine editor. (Photos by Catherine DeRan, U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center)

Afterward, the award-winning magazine announced the winners of its annual “ALTies” awards, celebrating the best article, commentary, graphic, ad and photograph published in the magazine in 2015. The awards were presented by Editor-in-Chief Nelson McCouch III.

“In a way, we’re like PBS,” McCouch said. “The magazine is made possible by contributions from supporters like you. Without you, I’d have a staff of writers, but not the access to the content for meaningful, impactful stories. Actually, that’s why I created the workshop and the awards.”

Army Times Editor Tony Lombardo and freelance photojournalist Kate Patterson were the guest speakers. Lombardo, a native of Elyria, Ohio, has worked for Military Times since 2008, serving previously as an editor for Army Times’ sister publications, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times. Most readers are not subject-matter experts, Lombardo said, and they want a story that’s entertaining and relatable. “The audience wants to be interested; they don’t want to feel like they are at work when reading the story.”

Writer's Workshop 2016

Army Times Editor Tony Lombardo’s presentation outlined five elements for a great article, including a bold headline and a killer nut graf.

Patterson, formerly the supervising photo editor at the USA Today news desk, has a client list that includes The Washington Post, Politico, USA Today and local nonprofit organizations. She advised attendees on a range of topics, from camera techniques to the essential elements of a good photo. “Plan all of the logistical stuff and visually get a plan in your head of what you’re going to do,” she explained. “Luck and planning [are] two things really handy to have if you’re a photographer.”

“There are so many different ways to tell a story, especially when you’re trying to ‘translate’ complex or technical content and make it interesting for the audience,” said workshop participant Claire Heininger, from the System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. “It’s always helpful to share perspectives and techniques with other writers and photographers who have been in the same shoes.”

Writer's Workshop 2016

The workshop ended with Nelson McCouch, right, AL&T editor-in-chief, presenting this year’s ALTies. Roger Teel, public affairs specialist from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), accepted the award for best commentary on behalf of Maj. Gen. John F. Wharton, RDECOM commanding general.

Throughout the workshop, AL&T staffers reviewed practical editing exercises and Army AL&T standards and writer’s guidelines. They also covered how to start an article, telling a story, and how to work with “boring” and technical content.

Tara Clements, Communications Outreach for the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center and editor of Army AL&T News, concluded the workshop with a step-by-step overview of online content marketing on social media platforms. Clements highlighted the tremendous impact of strategically marketing individual articles and continuously increasing the number of readers for each issue of Army AL&T.

The writer’s workshop slides and booklet are available for download. And be sure to visit our Flickr site to see the more photos from the event.

Winners of this year’s ALTies are as follows:

Winner:Keeping Design on Target
Dr. Gabriella Brick Larkin, Mr. Joshua Charm, Maj. Aron Hauquitz and Maj. Adam Patten
October – December 2015

Runner-Up:Ground Truth
Ms. Gail Cayce-Adams, U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity
April – June 2015

Winner:From STEM to Employment
Maj. Gen. John F. Wharton, Commanding General, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command
October – December 2015

Runner-Up:The Professionals Behind Program Success
Lt. Gen. Michael E. Williamson, Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology/Director, Acquisition Career Management
October – December 2015

Winner:The True Measure of Success
Sam Ortega, U.S. Army Research Laboratory
October – December 2015

Runner-Up:Systems Integration
Vanessa Flores, System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology
July – September 2015

Winner:Common-Sense Architecture
U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center
January – March 2016

Runner-Up:Cyber Mindset
Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications – Tactical
January – March 2015

Winner:Connecting the Global Army
PEO for Enterprise Information Systems
October – December 2015

Runner-Up (Tie):CHESS: Shopping for Software?
Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions, Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems
July – September 2015

Runner-Up (Tie):Want to Improve Performance of your Laser Target Locator?
Product Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices, Program Executive Office for Soldier
January – March 2015