Every year, The Ramapo News partakes in the New Jersey Press Foundation (NJPF) College Newspaper Contest, a competition where all two-year and four-year colleges in New Jersey are invited to submit work from the past year to highlight their paper’s year of excellence. This year’s contest ran from March 1, 2021 to Feb. 28, 2022.
The Ramapo News won four awards, including three third place wins and one first place win. The 15 categories of awards range from news writing, COVID-19 coverage, to layout & design and general excellence. The Ramapo News submitted a total of 35 entries across 12 categories. The editors spent several hours going through the 168 articles from the past year to find the strongest stories.
Two editors of The Ramapo News attended the Spring Conference and Awards Luncheon at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, N.J. on Saturday, April 9, where they were able to engage with other 2- and 4-year college newspapers across the state.
At the conference, New Jersey Press Association (NJPA) President William Murray welcomed the student staff and advisors before passing the floor over to the afternoon’s guest speaker Nat Clymer, a successful photojournalist of over 50 years and part-time photojournalism professor at Rutgers New Brunswick.
Clymer began his discussion by asking the room how many were just journalists, how many were just photographers and how many did both. Only some in the room raised their hands for only being photographers. Most of the attendees were journalists or doing both.
He shared that the commonality between the two roles was the component of storytelling, which is what journalism is all about. His talk was centered around highlighting the various ways humans interact with and interpret stories.
“This is not just about photography. This is about human life, human interaction,” Clymer said. “I tell stories about people. And because I love people, I have a great time meeting them and finding out about what they do, how they do it.”
Perhaps one of the greatest takeaways from his discussion was his thoughts on perception, suggesting that there is “no common reality.” Everyone has their own perspectives, which allows every reader or consumer to take in the stories they see in their own way, which is a powerful response to news coverage.
After Clymer’s casual and interactive discussion was the awaited 2021-22 College Newspaper Contest Award Ceremony.
News Editor and senior Natalie Tsur received third place in the layout & design category. The print page that won was from issue seven on page five. The page, titled “Then and now: A piece of Ramapo News history” was an archival piece featuring the grand opening of the Learning Commons, where Tsur placed photos of the original construction of the George T. Potter library from 1976 beside photos of the new library.
The layout & design was judged on “overall attractiveness, excellence of makeup, headlines, typography, special visual and verbal aids to the reader, and use of photos, illustrations and graphics,” according to the contest's rules.
Editor-in-Chief and senior Tori D’Amico won two awards. D’Amico’s issue three album review “Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett reunite for one last album” and issue five critical review “New Chappelle special reveals Netflix’s hypocrisy with LGBTQ+ representations” placed third in arts & entertainment/critical writing.
D’Amico also came in third place in editorial writing for her issue four article “Ramapo introduces Title IX Tuesdays, bringing attention to campus resources.” Her article was “of special interest to the college or to students,” and judged based on its “writing quality, depth of thought, courage, public service and persuasive ability.”
Staff writer and junior Tori Waschek placed first in sports writing for her issue 12 articles “Not all injuries are visible: Mental health and college athletes” and “Women’s basketball team falls late in hard-fought battle against Kean.” Waschek’s impressive win was judged on “quality of writing, originality, local appeal and lack of sports clichés.”
The recognition from the NJPF and NJPA is a proud reminder of the time and hard work the entire staff of The Ramapo News contribute each semester for the paper’s overall success and excellence.