By Lauren Lavelle
The Rider News was honored with several awards at the annual New Jersey Collegiate Press Association (NJPA) Spring Conference and Awards Luncheon on April 14. Seven reporters are also finalists in four categories in the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards which will be held on April 22 in Philadelphia.
At the NJPA awards, The Rider News took home first place for general excellence among four-year schools, beating out institutions such as Princeton and Rutgers. The Rider News also met this victory in 2016.
“I’m so proud of this year’s staff and how hard everyone has worked covering a variety of subjects,” said managing editor Shanna O’Mara. “Every week, we get criticism and praise, but we try to put personal feelings aside to continue to report accurately and fairly while providing entertaining and informative news for the Rider community.”
Opinion editor Hayley Fahey won first place in editorial writing, and news editor Gianluca D’Elia won first place in biography/personality profile writing. Sports editor Rob Rose won second place in both the biography/personality profile and web story categories. Features and entertainment editor Samantha Brandbergh won third place in feature writing.
“Winning the profile-writing category was so satisfying for me because my favorite stories to write and shoot are the ones that capture students’ personalities,” said D’Elia. “Any time I can find a unique angle or perspective that we don’t always hear about, it’s interesting. One of the judges commented that my articles and photos portrayed ‘students who proved that they could,’ and I really loved that compliment because that’s totally what I was going for.”
Fahey added, “This award really blew me away and made me feel so humbled to be part of this incredible newspaper. These editorials, in particular, were a time crunch and my proudest, strongest work, with the help of my other co-workers. I’m so happy that I was able to make an impact and move people on Rider’s campus through my editorial writing. It is a great way to end my senior year.”
Colleges from nine states are included in the SPJ’s Region 1 awards, with most categories featuring finalists from universities such as Harvard and Yale.
Staff writer Mary-Lyn Buckley is a finalist in the breaking news awards, and Brandbergh is a finalist in the feature writing category.
Together, former executive editor Tom Regan, ’17, O’Mara and D’Elia are finalists in the in-depth reporting category. O’Mara and D’Elia are also finalists in the general news photography category.
The winners will be announced at the April 22 awards banquet.
“Dr. [Jackie] Incollingo once told us in a class, ‘Question everything, and don’t let anyone intimidate you,’” said D’Elia. “I think Shanna, Tom and I did our best to embrace that, especially when we were covering Westminster because there are so many questions and emotions surrounding the sale.”
Brandbergh added, “This is the first time I’m nominated for an SPJ, and the fact that professional journalists have selected my story is a huge honor. It’s one of the stories I’m most proud of, so it felt great to be recognized.”