Youngtown Edition students, staff and alum honored
BY YOUNGTOWN STAFF
The Youngtown Edition added to its collection of award-winning journalism with four more New Jersey Collegiate Press Association NJCPA awards for 2016-2017.
In addition, former Youngtown Editor-in-Chief and CCM alumnus Derek Allen and faculty adviser Russ Crespolini were honored with New Jersey Press Association awards encompassing the same time period.
A consistent award-winner, the newspaper was awarded second place in the two-year college category for General Excellence in the NJCPA competition for the second straight year. The NJCPA’s New Jersey College Newspaper Contest is judged by professional journalists in the state. A number of individual writers also received NJPCA awards.
Longtime Youngtown Copy Editor Marisa Goglia won a first place award for her biography/personality profile piece entitled “CCM Spotlight: Gender club founder on campus for a cause.” Goglia was joined in the first place slot with Sports Editor Brett Friedensohn’s piece “Shooting hoops to ‘Kill Cancer’.” The final individual award of the year was a third place victory for Managing Editor Amanda Aller’s arts and entertainment feature “Timeless ‘West Side Story’ comes to CCM.”
Editor-in-Chief Beth Peter said she was pleased with the recognition, especially for the particular individuals who were honored.
“It’s exciting to see so many writers who have been consistently putting in the time and work get recognized,” Peter said. “I’m really proud of Marisa, Brett, Amanda and the whole team.”
Faculty adviser Russ Crespolini said that what he looks forward to every year with these particular awards is seeing where on the spectrum the honors fall.
“I’ve said this before but it bears repeating, the Youngtown is a perennial award-winning paper but the categories for which it receives marks for high achievement changes from year to year,” Crespolini said. “And that is because we are always welcoming in new people with new ideas and new focus as we lose others to graduation and transfer. With a two-year school, you have a lot of turnover.”
Crespolini noted that the differences between award seasons are night and day.
“While we have certainly never stray from our core values of being a reader service, our honors shift constantly. Last year we won for our feature writing and our opinion pieces,” Crespolini said. “This year it was people profiles, sports and arts coverage. Two years ago it was hard news reporting.”
Crespolini said beyond the turnover of staff this can also be attributed to it being a truly student run newspaper.
“They call the shots. I just keep us from being sued,” Crespolini said. “So they decide where they want to focus their energies and that makes for a very dynamic product that is constantly recognized.
Last year’s general excellence award was shepherded in by then-Editor-in-Chief Allen, who now works as a staff reporter for Crespolini as part of the New Jersey Hills Media group. Both alumnus Allen and Crespolini picked up awards from the NJPA.
Crespolini won a first place award in the Editorial Comment category for editorials on on the interactions between the Caldwell Mayor and Council and the community. The first was about a useless move against the gas tax that was devoid of substance and the second was a call for Mayor Ann Dassing to address her inappropriate behavior at a public meeting.
“The paper I run has won some variation of the responsible journalism award every year I’ve been here. Now, more than ever, it is important that we work hard to maintain our free press and keep our public officials honest,” Crespolini said. “This is also something we try to keep in mind when we are putting together The Youngtown.”
Crespolini also won a second-place award for column writing. The award-winning columns were about standing up for children in both the literal and figurative sense.
Allen was awarded a second place in the News Writing category for his coverage of a fire on Orchard Square in Caldwell. Allen was the first reporter on the scene of the fire and developed the story into how the community came together to help the multiple families who were displaced. He also explored allegations that the fire hydrants and feeder lines for first responders were poorly maintained.
“This was my first breaking news story and I was really happy how it came out. And it was also really great to see so many members of the community reach out and support those who lost everything in the fire,” Allen said. “The award is really, really nice. It feels great. It feels good to hone my skills professionally. I am really glad to be doing what I am doing and to be recognized for that is really amazing.”
For her part, Peter said that it is the team element of the Youngtown Edition that makes the product a success.
“The team did a great job creating a paper that we are proud of,” Peter said.
Crespolini said that now is an exciting time in journalism.
“We are seeing a heightened interest in the field now since the November election,” Crespolini said. “And it is really gratifying to see so many people connected to the Youngtown and to CCM getting recognition for their work.”