Temple journalists win 22 statewide student Keystone Awards

Arts and Entertainment editor Patricia Madej and Managing Editor Jenelle Janci make some final edits on a recent production night.
Arts and Entertainment editor Patricia Madej and Managing Editor Jenelle Janci make some final edits on a recent production night at The Temple News. (photo courtesy The Temple News/Andrew Thayer)

By Jeff Cronin
SMC Communications

Temple University’s student journalists dominated the 2014 Student Keystone Press Awards.

Submissions from The Temple News and PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com earned a total of 22 awards, marking the most ever in the history of the awards, which are presented annually by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association.

Among the highlights are a first-place win for best website by PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com and two first-place awards in general news and ongoing news coverage for senior journalism major and Editor in Chief Joey Cranney and the staff of The Temple News for coverage of the elimination of seven intercollegiate sports at Temple. Additionally, Max Pulcini, JOUR ’13, won three top prizes (for feature story, public service/enterprise package and sports story) for Rise of the Tigers, a piece he and Matthew Albasi, JOUR ’13, created for PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com on the Kensington football team.

While Andrew Mendelson, chair of the Journalism Department at Temple’s School of Media and Communication, wasn’t there assigning stories or helping with copy editing, he feels this program’s curriculum provides his students the tools to dive deep into the stories of Temple’s campus and its city.

“I am so proud of our students. The number of Keystone Student Press Awards for The Temple News and PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com shows that our approach to journalism is rich and diverse,” says Andrew Mendelson, chair of the Journalism Department at Temple’s School of Media and Communication. “Every day, we try to inspire our students to tell stories that reflect Philadelphia’s complexity through excellent writing, photography, multimedia, illustration and design.”

‘Noteworthy’ year for news
The Temple News
newsroom was buzzing with pride after the announcement of this year’s winners. Its 17 awards eclipse the newspaper’s previous record of nine Keystones in 2007.

The Temple News staff obviously had a lot of newsworthy stuff to cover, including the elimination of seven sports and a standoff at an off-campus residence,” says Student Media Program Director John DiCarlo, JOUR ’98, BTMM ’06. “What I’m most proud of is the staff’s continued commitment to outstanding and thorough reporting. They take a great deal of pride in what they do and it shows.”

Don’t expect The Temple News staff to become complacent as a result their success.

“With recognition comes more responsibility, and I think we now have even more of an obligation to keep delivering top-notch content every week,” says Managing Editor Jenelle Janci, a junior journalism major. “I think our staff can continue the rest of the year with an added confidence without losing an ounce of work ethic. I hope that we keep outdoing ourselves week after week.”

Strong leadership
Janci says a lot of the credit for this year’s showing at the Keystones should go to Cranney and his leadership of the newsroom.

“I’ve never seen anyone more dedicated about the paper in my time working there. Joey was in the office almost every day over the summer, working with our design editor on a layout overhaul, and implemented more structured beat reporting,” Janci says. “Under Joey’s leadership, we also added a new weekly meeting to discuss what content goes on the front page, allowing content other than general news to be on the front page for the first time since my time here. There’s been an added scrutiny on content with Joey at the head, but that’s only made our content better – and I think our performance at the Keystones proves that.”

Cranney said it was as simple as committing to what he calls “true journalism.”

“The first thing I did as editor was to bring back our mission statement and put it in its old spot underneath our flag on the front page,” he says. “Now, next to The Temple News at the top, it reads, ‘A watchdog for the Temple University community since 1921.’ I made it clear to our staff that being a watchdog to the community was our primary mission and they’ve responded.”

Janci says the devotion to excellence runs throughout the staff, calling her section editors, “the best of the best. I’m consistently impressed with the content that everyone is generating. You can tell your staff members a million times that they’ve done a great job, but it’s always nice to have that outside recognition.”

Five more for journalism capstone course
Down at Temple University Center City and the PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com newsroom, another five Keystones were collected by the online news site, which is the capstone course for all journalism majors.

Students gather in the PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com newsroom. (Photo by Neil Ortiz)

Professor Chris Harper, who co-directed the program with Associate Professor Linn Washington until this year (when Assistant Professor George Miller took the helm) says the website stands out from other collegiate news sites because it covers communities outside of campus.

“That’s what sets it apart,” Harper says. “It doesn’t just focus on college students and works as a bridge between the university and the neighborhoods.”

The site was redesigned this past year by Neil Ortiz, the department’s technical support specialist, and Todd Broadbent, SMC’s senior web developer.

Harper wasn’t surprised to see Rise of the Tigers receive accolades in three different categories.

Rise of the Tigers takes place in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city. It is so uplifting to see what can be done when residents come together. People in places like Kensington want what everyone wants–a safe neighborhood and a better future for their kids. That is what makes the story of the football team resonate on so many levels,” Harper says.

To Washington, the awards reveal the importance of the hands-on learning that takes place in the Journalism Department.

“The real-world experience that students receive in PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com provides tangible skills and intangible insights that aid them in life whether they pursue journalism or another career,” he says.

Full list of Temple’s winning entries

  • Website First Place – PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com
  • Website Honorable Mention – The Temple News
  • General News, First Place, Joey Cranney (JOUR) – University to eliminate seven intercollegiate sports. The Temple News
  • General News, Honorable Mention, John Moritz (JOUR) – Student recovered alive from Willington after 17 hours. The Temple News
  • Ongoing News Coverage,  First Place, Staff of The Temple News – Temple eliminates seven Division I sports.
  • Ongoing News Coverage, Second Place, Staff of PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com – Philadelphia School Closings: A Special Report
  • Public Service/Enterprise Package, First Place, Max Pulcini (JOUR) – Rise of the Tigers. PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com
  • Feature Story, First Place, Max Pulcini (JOUR) – Rise of the Tigers. PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com
  • Personality Profile First Place. Erin Edinger‐Turoff (JOUR) – Her sister’s keeper. The Temple News
  • Personality Profile Second Place. Claire Sasko (JOUR) – Eight-year vet returns to classroom. The Temple News
  • Personality Profile Honorable Mention. Luis Fernando Rodriguez (JOUR) – Traditional methods breeds contemporary topics. The Temple News
  • Sports Story, First Place, Max Pulcini (JOUR) – Rise of the Tigers. PhiladelphiaNeighborhoods.com
  • Editorial Second Place. The editorial board of The Temple News
  • Column First Place. Grace Holleran (BYR). The Temple News
  • Column Second Place. Jenelle Janci (JOUR). The Temple News
  • Column Honorable Mention. Jerry Iannelli (ADV). The Temple News
  • Review Second Place. Brendan Menapace (JOUR) – Fans and family. The Temple News
  • Review Honorable Mention. Dave Zisser (JOUR) – Aussie band adapts to U.S. scene. The Temple News
  • Cartoon/Graphic Illustration Honorable Mention. Katie Kalupson (Community/Regional Planning). The Temple News
  • Sports Photo Honorable Mention. Hua Zong (JOUR) – Hurdle. The Temple News
  • Photo Story Second Place. Kara Milstein (FOX) – Rowing practice. The Temple News
  • Layout and Design Honorable Mention. Staff of The Temple News – 2013 Temple basketball preview