The privilege of recognition at ICCJA

Professional journalists across Illinois recently honored student-journalists at the Illinois Community College Journalism Association (ICCJA) Spring 2015 Conference and Awards Banquet on April 9-10. A total of 24 categories were judged and critiqued for the 18 community colleges who are currently members of ICCJA. Submissions were from the 2014 calendar year, sent in last December.

Awards were presented for everything from News Story of the Year to Sports Column to Design & Layout and even for Advertising. Black Hawk College had three placing winners this year. Yesenia Gomez received 2nd place for Editorial Cartoons for her work from Spring 2014.  Benjamin Bopes received Honorable Mention in the News Columns category for an article written last fall about medical marijuana use. Jennifer Simmering received 3rd place for Staff Editorial about euthanasia from Fall 2014.

Joseph Gisondi, a professor at Eastern Illinois University, has been with ICCJA for two years; the ICCJA has been in existence for more than 20 years. Its primary goal is to educate students with the help of professional journalists and university faculty, and to help students and their instructors become better journalists.

“Let’s not forget,” stated Gisondi, “that a [college] newspaper is a compilation of student homework.” He was quick to point out, however, that, “These students are justifiably held to a higher standard. ICCJA helps students perform at that higher level.”

Students who take JOUR 230 – Newspaper Production at Black Hawk College have an opportunity to participate in the workshops offered at this spring and fall conference, and have the potential to be rewarded for their work while gaining more knowledge in their professional fields of journalism, design, or photography.

left to right: Ale Toniazzo, Katherine Pustejovesky, Ryan Prochaska, Jennifer Simmering, Anna Headley, and Professor Marifaith Mueller.
left to right: Ale Toniazzo, Katherine Pustejovesky, Ryan Prochaska, Jennifer Simmering, Anna Headley, and Professor Marifaith Mueller.

Professor Mueller took five students from the Newspaper Production class to the spring conference that was attended by more than 120 students and advisers. More entries were received this year than ICCJA officials have seen in the past several years. Students who attend have the privilege to interact with student-journalists from other schools and learn from each other as well as the professional journalists in attendance.

The next conference for Fall 2015 will be held in October at Eastern Illinios University in Charleston, Illinois. There, professional journalists will offer training workshops over a two-day period. ICCJA will also award the first John Ryan Best of Show award. Entries must be submitted at the fall conference when students arrive, and it will be judged during the conference. Decisions will be based on general overall excellence as judges evaluate news content, quality of writing, evidence of in-depth reporting, presentation/design, originality, and editing accuracy.

Good luck to our Chieftain journalists!