Four recent graduates of the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Bonaventure University received accolades in the 2012-13 New York State Associated Press Association (NYSAPA) Awards.
Samantha House, ’11, won first place for beat reporting and first place for continuing coverage for her work with The Citizen in Auburn. Chris Michel, ’10, of the Olean Times Herald, won third place in the continuing coverage category as well. Jim Miller, ’05, of the Finger Lakes Times, won first place in the business/finance category. A team from The Citizen which included House and Kelly Voll Gottula, ’06, placed second in the depth reporting category.
All four will receive their awards at the NYSAPA Awards banquet and symposium on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at the Genesee Grande Hotel in Syracuse.
Pauline Hoffmann, dean of the school of journalism and mass communication, said the success of these graduates is a testament to the education they received while at St. Bonaventure.
“It is exciting to see so many of our J/MC alumni succeed in journalism,” she said. “It speaks to the emphasis we place on quality, ethical writing and reporting.”
House, who has been on the court reporting beat at The Citizen, said her education as a journalism and mass communication student played a crucial role in cultivating not only her skills as a journalist, but the moral compass of the Franciscan tradition as well. This awareness and empathy helped her succeed in the emotionally-charged environment of the courtroom.
“I learned that words have power — the power to hurt as well as heal. So I entered the newspaper world knowing that above all, I must report with empathy and compassion. That compass has served as a great guide,” she said. “It is impossible to observe the rehashing of such tragedies without being affected by the pain felt by victims' families. But when it comes time to write, I leave my thoughts far away from my keyboard. Everyone deserves a chance to speak — including the guilty.”
Miller’s three-part series in the Finger Lakes Times, “Where We Were, Where We Are and Where We're Going,” looked at the Finger Lakes region's recent economic history.
“Conventional wisdom holds that we were somewhat insulated from the recession's worst woes,” he said. “We wanted to explore that idea, show what happened here during the recession, find out how well we recovered from it and look at the challenges and opportunities that the region will face in the years ahead.”
Miller said his time at St. Bonaventure was crucial in helping him become a successful writer and reporter.
“Our professors taught us to write clearly and concisely,” he said. “For a series like this, which involves many numbers and complicated concepts, that was vital. The J/MC faculty insisted on accuracy, fairness and precision. In this series, as in all the work I do, I tried to keep those lessons in mind.”
Hoffmann expressed that she and her fellow faculty and staff strive to give students a solid yet versatile foundation of writing and communicating that can be applied to numerous technologies.
“While technology changes the delivery of news, the essentials are the same and we remain committed to teaching them,” she said. “We are also committed to ensuring our students are prepared to communicate in an ever-changing technological arena. We are in touch with industry professionals, particularly alumni, who advise us with curriculum necessities beyond our core competencies.”
Miller said he believes it’s still important for local journalists to be recognized for their work, even at a time when newspapers appear to be declining.
“It shows that we're still here, still relevant and still striving to do good work,” he said. “It shows that we can still tell stories that matter, stories that inform and stories that people want to read.”
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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