Joseph Pack, Mustang News' photo editor, chose this shot by Ian Billings as the top photo of the school year.

Editor’s note: The current school year has been nothing short of exciting. Here at Mustang News, we’ve covered everything from big donations to sexual assault to new restaurants off campus. The new year is a time to both reflect and look forward, so before we start creating new content in 2015, the editors decided to hand pick their favorite stories of the quarter. Enjoy. 

1.“The ‘Isla Vista phenomenon’: San Luis Obispo city council tries to decrease the amount of student-dominanted neighborhoods”

Ashbaugh said the plan would initially be targeted toward neighborhoods in Alta Vista and Monterey Heights, the Highland Drive area, and Cuesta and North Chorro streets. | Daniel Dempster/Mustang News

Morgan Butler, broadcast news director
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To start, I thought the article was well written. It had good flow and pulled from two good sources. I was impressed that we got to talk to the mayor about the program — and even more shocked that she was on board.

More importantly I thought the most notable element was the impact the article had. It brought a lot of traffic and generated a large response from students. I think the response was important in getting the students engaged in the San Luis Obispo community. Not many students are involved in the politics of the city, or even vote on city matters. I think this article will prompt more students to take interest in the local politics.

I also think this story lends itself to a larger trend of the relationship between San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly – something we should continue follow up on. The story was great original reporting. I think this is something other news outlets in San Luis Obispo would be interested in. Investments in real estate carry a certain caution and I think that’s another angle that could be followed up with here. But overall, I think this piece is instrumental in getting students involved in city politics. 

2.“Students fake it ’til they make it with fake IDs”

Kyle McCarty, managing editor
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This was one of our most read stories of Fall 2014, and with good reason. It’s a great example of a strong story topic. Who isn’t curious about fake ID’s?

The story examines the topic from a variety of angles. This thorough examination is one of the story’s main strengths. We hear from a student who has been caught using a fake ID, and even plans to get another. A doorman explains what he looks for when spotting fakes. Finally the legal consequences and processes are examined when we hear from the police, and a local defense attorney.

Brooke Sperbeck’s writing keeps the story interesting and easy to follow. The scene setting at the start of the story is a particularly nice touch.

Be sure to check out the video by Natalie Alexander at the top of the page, for some memorable appearances from downtown revelers, as well as Cork ’n’ Bottle manager Eddie Barakat’s take on fake ID use in his store.

And if you must use your fake ID downtown, Adriana Catanzarite’s graphic about which bars are easier to get into may provide you some help — though after reading this article, I’d have to recommend against it.

3.“The baker, the ‘momma,’ the worker: Cal Poly Sage restaurant supervisor Karen May dies of heart attack”

Karen May lived in Morro Bay before she died. | Courtesy Photo/Mustang News.

Kayla Missman, managing editor
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No one wants to write an obituary.

From finding willing sources to accurately portraying the facts, everything becomes more challenging. When our news editor got word of Karen May’s death, she volunteered to write this story — and it easily became my favorite read this quarter. This article is a prime example of how to mix facts and feelings.

Yes, you can read this story and find a typical lead and information about May’s passing. But through anecdotes, readers also learn about May’s infectious positive energy and how deeply she affected those around her. Though I only met May a few times, reading this story made me feel like I knew her personally. It captures May’s essence, and that is the mark of a highly effective story.

4. “Top dog Modest Mouse fires up Central Coast”

Jacob Lauing, editor-in-chief
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Will Peischel is not a conventional writer by any means.

He strays away from the most obvious elements of a story. He has a knack for finding the smallest, strangest details of a scene, playing them up, and — as a result — fully immersing readers in his story. His words always leave me laughing, usually at the sheer ridiculousness of the details he chooses to describe. But then, I take a step back, and realize how important that detail was to the entire picture.

It’s a weird method of storytelling. But weird is good. And I love it.

One of my primary goals as editor this year was to revamp the arts section. It’s so easy to get stuck in what I like to call the “preview/review” story mold, which sounds a little something like this: This band is playing on Friday (preview). This band played on Friday (review).

OK, great. A band played a show. I could read that on Twitter. Tell me something I don’t know about that concert.

Mr. Peischel, in his strangely beautiful ways, has accomplished this, and breathed new life into our arts section. His Modest Mouse review epitomizes what I’ve wanted to see in Mustang News’ concert reviews for a while. And that’s why it’s my favorite story of the quarter.

In his reviews, it’s as if Will has brought you along.

I read this Modest Review, and imagined myself seated next to Will in Paso Robles watching the show, his voice in my ear the whole time, adding commentary to an otherwise familiar experience.

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