By Olivia Nicoletti
Another award-winning year is in the books for The Rider News as the paper won eight awards collectively from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the New Jersey Press Foundation (NJPF).
Senior journalism major Dylan Manfre received two Mark of Excellence awards for Region One from SPJ. According to The Rider News advisor Jackie Incollingo, Manfre is the first student journalist on The Rider News staff in recent history to be awarded twice in one year from SPJ.
His story “The rise and return of track star James Green,” won in the sports writing category, following his other winning story, “The Diffenderfers: A sibling bond,” in the category for feature writing.
“I’m incredibly proud of those two stories — at the time I wrote them, I was doubting myself a little bit. I knew these stories were incredibly delicate but I knew they were going to be good,” Manfre said. “When they finally came out, it boosted my confidence a lot and it made me feel really good to see the hard work I put into them.”
On top of his SPJ successes, Manfre was awarded second place for sports writing from NJPF for his stories, “Broncs drop two more games as struggles continue; Rider drops MAAC opener after tight contest with Quinnipiac.”
When Manfre began his journalism career in 2016, he wrote for his personal sports blog in high school. He has since kept track of every game he ever reported on, his current total is 277 games and events.
Manfre had been interested and involved with sports himself but as he always said, “I stopped trying to be a great athlete because I wanted to write and report on those who will be.”
Others within the newsroom acknowledged Manfre’s persistence for greatness. Sarah Siock, a senior journalism major and the executive editor of The Rider News, has worked with Manfre for the past two years and applauded his story-telling abilities.
“Dylan is one of the most hardworking people on the staff. When he has something that he’s passionate to write about, he puts all of his effort into it,” Siock said. “He really went in-depth with the stories that he wrote. He was super careful along the way and got all the facts and information and ultimately he just wrote about things that he was very passionate about.”
Another award winner, Tiffany Hartman, who graduated in the fall and was the videographer of The Rider News, took first place from NJPF for the online video category.
Throughout her time at Rider, she had made many videos for the paper but her work on “Disabled students discuss accessibility and experiences on Rider’s campus,” ultimately won the award.
“It is very rewarding to bring the journalists of The Rider News stories to life, specifically, [Kate McCormick’s] story about disability awareness on Rider University’s campus. As a filmmaker it is important to me to not only be creative with my films but to also give a powerful message that can have a major effect in a positive way,” Hartman said. “This film was so important to me because I truly believe these students deserve more awareness within our campus, but also within their daily lives in general. I hope this video not only affects our campus but people everywhere, and I hope it offers a positive change.”
Features and Entertainment Editors Tristan Leach, a sophomore journalism major, and Amethyst Martinez, a sophomore journalism major, along with design manager Adrienne Unfreed, a sophomore graphic design major, received first place for layout and design from NJPF.
Unfreed and Martinez collectively worked 10 hours on the 9/11 tribute and eventually when Leach joined The Rider News, all three of them contributed eight hours to the Halloween edition of the paper.
Unfreed said, “I was so surprised but incredibly honored that my fellow peers and myself were presented with such an award. It’s really nice to see the hard work and time we put into these pages be recognized by the judges.”
Both Leach and Martinez are new editors on the staff this year and they take pride in the strides they have made within the short time being a part of The Rider News.
Leach said, “I love the events, I love going to shows, I love getting to interview different teachers and getting to meet new people; it allows me to get back to my roots of musical theater,” Leach said. “I know that we get awards every year, but as a brand new editor on the staff, this is an amazing accomplishment.”
Martinez added, “With features and entertainment, definitely, I feel like I can be more creative because we have the middle spread. It’s very easy for us to do huge layouts and fun ones. Especially for the 9/11 issue or the Halloween issue, I feel like we really took advantage of what we could do. I’m really happy that I decided to work for a newspaper a year ago because I wasn’t expecting this amount of recognition and learning from any kind of opportunity outside of normal classes.”
This is Siock’s second consecutive award from NJPF, winning second place for news writing based on her story “Student wages stay behind NJ’s minimum wage; Tax form reveals salaries of top Rider administrators.”
“The awards are a reflection of the hard work that the entire staff puts in each week. Everyone on the staff works diligently every single week to put out a paper that we’re proud of. So I’m really honored that we’re able to receive these awards to be able to showcase that hard effort that we put in every single week,” Siock said. “I think that we won awards across a very diverse range of categories between graphic design, videos and then news stories. We’re not just simply sticking to one track, so it shows just how diverse we are in the content that we’re putting out.”
Kaitlyn D’Alessio, a junior marketing major, took third place from NJPF for photography. This is her first award received at the paper.
“I honestly was so excited when I got the email that I had won an award. It feels so good to have been recognized for my photography,” D’Alessio said. “I feel like it’s just another step to fitting in more and getting recognized at Rider.”
The Rider News as a whole received third place for general excellence from NJPF.
Managing Editor and junior sports media major Shaun Chornobroff has witnessed the work each member of The Rider News puts in weekly.
“The awards won this year are a representation of the hard work and care put into the newspaper,” Chornobroff said. “Each and every week we strive to put out a great product to the Rider community and I hope this shows that.”