The Empire State strikes back.

Both winners and one honorable mention are from New York. Coincidence or conspiracy? Neither, since none of our rotating trio of judges live there, although one grew up there. It’s just how those judges ranked the 84 entries they received last week.

Shannon Miller, The Pioneer

LIU to Receive $7 Million Stimulus After Layoffs and No Refunds

Miller is the co-EIC of the paper at Long Island University Post, and her investigation earned the ultimate sign of journalistic respect: Pro journalists couldn’t figure out how she did it.

She says the story “caught the attention of ABC News, which contacted me to confirm how I found the bailout/stimulus information, and asked if I could connect them with resident students who were looking for refunds. They put together a news package, along with a digital story covering the news.”

What happened next is sadly familiar to many college journalists:  “The school responded to ABC with a statement – however, they never responded to me.” Still, Miller won because the school refunded money it had refused to pay.

Said one judge…

Her university wasn’t giving information, so she went out and got it. It’s immensely valuable to students and families who were also in the dark about a topic that affects all of their lives. Even if their university wouldn’t give them the professional courtesy of a response, the local outlet that followed up had to go to the author and ask about her sourcing, then credited them in their story. That’s a big win.

Added another: “When the school caved and gave refunds, it was only because of The Pioneer’s pioneering work on this issue.”

Ithaca College Television

Remote Newscast 4/29

Nothing is harder to watch than an awkward TV news anchor. Nothing is easier to watch than a natural one.

“Kristen Mirand might be the most refined anchor we’ve seen on any college newscast,” said our lead judge, who’s been among our rotating trio since the beginning. “She’s prepared and comfortable, displaying a truly natural presence.”

Indeed, Mirand seems as comfortable in her living room as other anchors do in a studio. But it wasn’t all about her.

“It’s very obvious this staff learned to adapt to a new working environment and seems to be doing it with ease,” said another judge. “This is an impressive amount of reporting. I’ve reviewed other broadcast pieces that were nowhere near as informative. This news staff doesn’t B.S., keeps the show short, and does their jobs.”

NY City News Service

“Sometimes, letting a source speak – and standing aside – is the best way to tell a story and capture the person’s thinking,” judges said. But not always…

All three pieces give us insight into how people are coping. But the videographers in the two feature pieces don’t stand and observe. They move through each person’s life with them. The second piece about financial-services employee Maria Chambers was superb and had the feel of a short film, with a wonderful opening and closing – literally.

The other two pieces – a video and audio slideshow – from students at CUNY’s j-school reveal the lives of a young Brooklyn data manager with two roommates and a Bronx ER worker who’s recovering from COVID-19.

Carson TerBush and Vivek Rao, Indiana Daily Student

Pandemic playbook: How UITS took IU online

All three judges loved the lede: “If you watched recordings of all the IU-affiliated Zoom calls from March 9, it would take eight months of nonstop streaming. If you watched all the calls from March 30, the first day of online class after the novel coronavirus outbreak forced IU’s classes online for the duration of the spring semester, it would take four years.”

Judges said…

This story is packed full of beautifully presented information. Not only does it use data to tell stories in a way that I would say is uncommon for many college media outlets, but includes a narrative that puts that data into context.

Added one judge: “The highest praise I can give this article is that as a professional journalist, I’m going to go to work tomorrow and start collecting similar data to recreate this story for my community.”

Julia Arwine, Abby Bammerlin, Hannah Horsington, The Miami Student Magazine

The unfolding of a global pandemic

“We began this story before we knew how it would end,” Arwine told judges. The news editor for the magazine at Miami University of Ohio was handed the semester’s cover story but was clear about sharing credit…

My fellow reporters Abby Bammerlin and Hannah Horsington helped me to balance interviews and research with the upheaval we were all experiencing. I wrote the story, but could not have done it without their help. Together, we gathered student, teacher and administrative perspectives to capture the sense of disruption this pandemic has caused and talk about it on a deeper level than a traditional news article would allow for.

The judges were impressed with the entire package. “The writing and editing are sharp, and the presentation is enhanced with timeline graphics,” one said. “This was a good read, in the style of a tick-tock piece after the first few news cycles after a major event. It has a nice range of voices, including an opening source who can tie Miami of Ohio to Wuhan, the ground zero of COVID-19.”

Your last chance to enter The CCC Awards is this Friday at 11:59:59 p.m. in whatever time zone you’re sheltering in.

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