The Gatepost staff receive eight awards from national organization ‘honoring the best of student journalism’

(From left to right) Tessa Jillson, Cesareo Conteras, Lizzy Stocks, Nadira Wicaksana, Jillian Poland, and Matt Ferris display their awards from the conference. (Bailey Morrison / THE GATEPOST)

The Gatepost received eight Mark of Excellence (MOE) awards at the Region 1 Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) conference April 6.

SPJ is a national organization that advocates for journalists’ first-amendment rights and, according to its website, is “dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.” 

The Gatepost earned MOE awards for feature writing, general column writing, sports column writing, general news photography, and editorial writing.

According to an April 8 SPJ press release, the organization “recognizes the best in collegiate journalism in Region 1 with 2018 Mark of Excellence Awards winners.”

The Region 1 conference spotlights journalists from colleges and universities in New England, New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania.

FSU received recognition in six of the categories in the “small schools” division. Small schools are defined as having 9,999 students or less. Colleges with 10,000 or more students are considered for recognition in a separate category, according to the SPJ website. 

The awards for both editorial and sports column writing include both divisions. 

Senior Tessa Jillson, Arts & Features editor, won first place for general column writing for her coverage of the Mazmanian Art Gallery showings. 

Jillson said, “I think this award acknowledges all the time and effort I’ve put into writing for The Gatepost – setting up interviews, finding the right word choices, and even staying up until 4 a.m. on some nights. It isn’t just my award recognizing my hard work, but it’s an award for my whole staff.” 

She added, “There are a lot of people behind the scenes who edit my articles and work on layout and design before they are published. I am so fortunate to have met these people and have such a phenomenal support team beside me.” 

Senior Nadira Wicaksana, News editor, and senior Lizzy Stocks, Opinions editor, received finalist awards in the general column writing category.

Senior Jillian Poland, associate editor, received first place in the feature writing category for her article, “The Just-ice League: How the snow crew keeps FSU safe.” 

Poland said, “I’m excited to have received a Mark of Excellence award, particularly as I’m coming to the end of my time at The Gatepost. This award is a nice way to cap off three years of working for the paper.”

She added, “The eight Mark of Excellence awards our staff was honored with are outside validation of what I already knew – that The Gatepost staff is made up of some of the most intelligent and dedicated people at Framingham State. I’ve been so lucky to work with each and every one of them.”

Cesareo Contreras, former editor-in-chief, was a finalist in the feature writing category for his piece, “Innovation Center brews new business.”

Senior Allie Gath, former Photos editor, won first place in the general news photography category for a photograph taken last year of the protests that followed a hate crime on campus.

Senior Matt Ferris, Sports editor, received an award as a finalist in the sports column category for his weekly column, “Ferr or Foul.”

The Gatepost Editorial Board received a finalist award for editorial writing. The winner was The Daily Orange at Syracuse University, and the other finalist was Qur’an Hansford at Rider University. 

Senior Bailey Morrison, editor-in-chief, said, “The editorials – authored by Jillian, Lizzy, and me – are something I am incredibly proud of. I’m lucky to work with two such accomplished writers, and this recognition shows that others see the work we put into the editorials we write every week.”

Morrison added, “Everything we do at The Gatepost is a team effort – we wouldn’t have received eight Mark of Excellence awards if it weren’t for the dedication of each and every member.”

In an email, President F. Javier Cevallos said, “I take a great deal of pride in the fact that Framingham State boasts one of the best student-run newspapers in the country. The amount of work and dedication students at The Gatepost put into producing an interesting, accurate, and reliable source of news for our campus is amazing.”

He added, “I am very grateful. You [The Gatepost] should all feel extremely proud of this recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists.”

Jillson, Poland, and Gath will be considered for national awards and compete against first-place MOE winners from the other 11 regions. 

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