The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) awarded four students from Framingham State’s independent student newspaper The Gatepost six Mark of Excellence Awards at the region 1 conference on April 8 at John Jay College in New York City.
The SPJ conference “recognizes the best collegiate journalism in Region 1,” which includes colleges and universities in New England, New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, according to an SPJ press release.
FSU was categorized as a small school, having fewer than 9,999 students. Other schools in attendance included Syracuse University, Harvard University and Ithaca College, said the press release.
Junior Nick Murphy, a staff writer for The Gatepost, won a Mark of Excellence Finalist Award in the Column Writing category for his bi-weekly column, “The Pawgress Report.”
“We come from a small, lesser-known school than some of the others there, so we felt pride in our school. The people I went with are all incredibly talented people,” he said.
“It was stiff competition there,” Murphy added.
Murphy and the other recipients attended the conference along with English professor Elizabeth Banks, assistant advisor to The Gatepost, he said.
Senior Alexandra Gomes, The Gatepost Editor-in-Chief, won a Mark of Excellence Finalist Award in the Feature Writing category for her December 2016 story, “First-generation students find their way.”
“We don’t have a big journalism program here. … It’s a minor and a concentration with two people running it, and they do a fantastic job, but it’s still small,” she said. “The fact that our paper can measure up with schools like that is just humbling.”
The winner in Gomes’ category was an article written by a student from Yale University, according to the SPJ press release.
“I’m very honored to be considered amongst Ivy League colleges.” she said.
Junior Phil McMullin, Opinions Editor for The Gatepost, was the winner of the General Column Writing category for three of his columns from 2016.
“I’ve learned so much more than I thought possible from The Gatepost,” said McMullin, “I’m very proud to work for a paper that can compete with some of the top schools in the country.”
Sophomore Amanda Martin, a photos editor for The Gatepost, won two categories – breaking news photography and feature photography, receiving a total of three Mark of Excellence Awards.
“I was really surprised. I didn’t expect to get one award, let alone three,” said Martin, “A lot of people think it doesn’t affect me … because I’m a biochemistry major … but honestly, it’s been really encouraging and it’s made me want to pursue photo journalism,” she said.
Submissions were selected from the 2016 issues of The Gatepost. The paper’s management team, consisting of Gomes and the associate editors, and advisor Desmond McCarthy submitted articles and photos on behalf of students based on the potential for success they had in the competition, said Gomes.
Murphy was unaware of his submission until less than a month before the awards ceremony.
“It was really nice to hear that someone submitted it on my behalf, because, first and foremost, this was a passion project for myself to reach out to people,” said Murphy. He added the success of “The Pawgress Report” was unexpected but he’s glad it’s been well-received.
Category winners McMullin and Martin will be considered for national awards, competing with winners from the 12 regional SPJ conferences, said the press release.