Kean University’s official student newspaper, The Tower, has earned five awards, including one for General Excellence, from the New Jersey Collegiate Press Association (NJCPA.)
The Tower prevailed over several other colleges and universities nationwide, including The College of New Jersey (TCNJ,) Rutgers University and Princeton University, among other notable institutions.
The Tower was awarded first place in the News Writing category for “Kean Announces Employment Practices After MLK Day Protest” and “Graduate Accused of Twitter Threats Pleads Not Guilty.” Both stories were released in the February 2016 edition of the paper.
The most prestigious award that was earned by The Tower was second place in General Excellence for the October 2015 and December 2015 issues. The current Editor-in-Chief of The Tower, Rebecca Panico, junior, communication with a focus in journalism major, is extremely proud of the staff as well as her own work.
In addition to the General Excellence and News Writing awards, The Tower got second place in the Arts and Entertainment/Critical Writing category, for the work of Yuri Smishkewych, senior, communication with a focus in journalism major, the current News and Video Editor, for his article “Art With A Bird’s Eye View On Social Justice.”
The Tower was also awarded third place in the Overall Website category as well as third place in the Online Video category on Smishkewych’s behalf.
The Tower’s faculty advisers, Professors of Communication Patricia Lauro and Lois DeSocio, oversee the creation and distribution of the paper. They are extremely proud of the recent NJCPA achievements and hope that the paper will gain more campus-wide recognition and appreciation because of the awards.
"I'm so proud of the staff of The Tower for the hard work and dedication that was consistently shown and now recognized as such by the [NJCPA,]" said DeSocio. "That we took home awards for various platforms -- print and online -- and won second place in General Excellence, is especially impressive and a nod to the journalism program here at Kean."
“I am very proud that The Tower editors and staff won these awards, which took so much hard work, especially on the part of our intrepid editor-in-chief Rebecca Panico,” said Lauro. “And that we were recognized for our work across multiple media platforms for our print, video and website is such an honor for our students and our journalism program because it shows that the Tower is a fully convergent news organization, not a print newspaper alone.”
Creating a paper such as The Tower includes braving extreme weather to get a story, spending long nights editing, or hunting down a person for an exciting interview. Skills such as these often go unrecognized from non-journalists. But for those who wish to pursue the daunting life of a journalist, skills such as these are crucial.
“I don't think most people realize the amount of work that goes into filling blank pages with fair, ethical reporting,” said Panico. “I'm really proud of the staff because we all balance classes, jobs and our personal lives on top of putting out a paper each month.”
The Tower is made up of a relatively small yet dedicated and hardworking staff, all of whom are completely devoted to the art of journalism. Although participating as staff for The Tower for at least three semesters is mandatory for all journalism focus majors, the opportunity is open to anybody wishing to contribute to the student paper.
“Both Annalise Knudson, editor-in-chief in Fall 2015, and [Panico,] have worked together all year as a team and are named on the award for the General Excellence award. They are a great team that pairs Rebecca's passion about journalism's role to seek truth with Annalise's softer focus on features,” said Lauro.
With the approximate campus population of Kean University being 14,000 students, more eyes and ears reporting would lead to a lot more coverage, thus a more successful paper, although there is obviously no shortage of success when it comes to the passionate writers on board at The Tower.
For the staff of The Tower, the NJCPA awards are so much more than strictly academic achievements. The awards are a symbol of appreciation for all of the devotion and talent that goes into producing the monthly issues of the paper.
The Tower can be picked up all over the Kean University campus. There is also an online edition of The Tower that allows access from electronic portals, which has a video feature. Every student on campus is encouraged to grab an issue or go online and read the material produced by a group of devoted and skilled students who will go on to be the reporters of the future.
So many futures and passions are being fed behind the printed words of The Tower, some appreciation is deserved. Panico, who looks upon The Tower’s achievement with pride, seems to believe that this NJCPA milestone is only the beginning for the dedicated staff.
“The Tower tells the whole story of Kean University, both its highs and lows, and I'm so grateful that I get to see it all,” said Panico.