The Channels staff earns 13 awards at national journalism conference

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Screen grab from the JACC Spring 2021 National Media Conference awards ceremony. The Channels won 13 individual awards at the conference on March 21, 2021 in range of categories including photography, opinion, critical review, editorial, general excellence and our first award in social media.

Jacob Frank, News Editor

The Channels staff was recognized with 13 awards at a journalism convention on March 20, including General Excellence and fourth place in the first virtual on-the-spot Social Media contest. 

Out of nearly 43 online community college publications, City College’s student-run news site had five students winning on-the-spot contests and won seven awards for stories and photos submitted over the previous year, along with the General Excellence award. The Channels received recognition for photography, opinion, critical review and editorial writing.

“I’m very proud of the staff at the channels,” said Josh Molina, the adviser of The Channels. “They have worked diligently, aggressively and passionately to cover news during this difficult time of the pandemic.”

For over a year now, The Channels staff has met almost completely over Zoom.

“News gathering is difficult, but under pandemic circumstances, it makes access to the truth even more challenging,” Molina said.

The Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC) hosted the convention, which is normally held as a large in-person gathering with thousands of students, advisors and speakers who come to teach and learn about journalism and media. 

The pandemic forced organizers to innovate after the Spring 2020 convention was canceled in March 2020. 

This year, JACC partnered with the Associated Collegiate Press, College Media Association and other collegiate-media programs to offer over 100 learning sessions, keynote speakers and roundtable discussions in a completely online format. 

Cecilia Deck, the current JACC president, said the attendance this year was “well over 2,000.” Despite the online format, people could still interact with each other and participate in on-the-spot contests

Ryan P. Cruz, the editor-in-chief of The Channels, received an honorable mention for the Opinion Writing contest and won fourth place in the Social Media contest. 

“I was excited to get recognized for that,” Cruz said. “Social media is really something we’ve tried to push this semester.”

For the contest, participants had to watch a one-hour live presentation given by two collegiate advisers and tweet in real time as if they were covering for a publication.

The contest had been conducted for years, but this was the first year they would try to host it online, and the first time they used Twitter as the platform. 

“It really required you to think on your feet,” Cruz said.

Staff Writer Kiki Reyes and News Editor Jacob Frank also received honorable mentions for the on-the-spot Feature Writing and News Writing contests. Opinion Editor August Lawrence won second place in the Opinion Writing contest. 

Photo Editor Desiree Erdmann also won several awards for photos published over the previous year. This semester is Erdmann’s and Cruz’s last on The Channels staff.

“This is the last six weeks that we have, and I really want to do as much good work as we can,” Cruz said. “If you could compare it to sports, you want to leave it all out on the field. You want to do the best you can before it’s too late.”