Tower editor beats Yale, Columbia in journo contest

Published April 29, 2016

From left are Tower adviser Pat Winters Lauro, Panico, adviser Lois DeSocio and Yuri at the NJCPA awards ceremony. April 7, 2016. Credit: The Tower

From left are Tower adviser Pat Winters Lauro, Panico, adviser Lois DeSocio and Yuri at the NJCPA awards ceremony. April 7, 2016. Credit: The Tower

Tower Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Panico has been awarded first place for breaking news reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, Region 1 — surpassing student finalists from Yale University and Columbia University.

The Mark of Excellence Award from the SPJ, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism society, is a first for Kean University and The Tower, the independent student newspaper overseen by the college’s journalism program. The award was announced April 11.

Panico won for her breaking story about a protest march on Morris Avenue outside campus, in which a group of black ministers alleged institutional racism at Kean, a charge the university denies. The story was first published on The Tower’s website.

“It’s a great honor to see my reporting alongside Yale and Columbia,” said Panico. “All the student reporters in the breaking news category offered up great reporting. Tower staff  don’t get paid for their work, but it’s recognition like this that makes it worthwhile.”

Th is is the second time that Panico has honored Kean University for excellence in journalism. On April 9, she received First Place for News Reporting from the New Jersey Collegiate Press Association at its annual awards ceremony and conference in Cranbury, NJ.

She also shared the NJCPA second place award given to The Tower, for overall General Excellence among student newspapers in New Jersey, and the third place award for best student newspaper website.  All three of those awards were firsts again for The Tower.

“The School of Communication, Media & Journalism is very proud of Rebecca Panico,” said Professor Pat Winters Lauro, director of journalism and co-adviser of The Tower with Prof. Lois DeSocio. “Rebecca is a model student who works very hard and is passionate about doing good in the world.”

“Rebecca consistently puts in the efforts necessary to produce stellar journalism, and she possesses the essential qualities of a good journalist — passion, curiosity, fairness and tenacity,” said DeSocio. “It’s a pleasure to work with her.”

The SPJ honors the best in student journalism in regions around the country. Region 1 included entries from colleges and universities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Professional journalists with at least three years of experience judge the entries. First place winners will be entered in the national competition where all 12 SPJ regions compete.

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