The New Jersey Press Foundation (NJPF) awarded The Montclarion with two first place, five second place and two third-place awards in the 2021-2022 New Jersey College Newspaper Contest.
From photography to articles to video, student-run newspapers and digital news organizations from New Jersey submitted their best work that was published between March 1, 2021, and Feb. 28, 2022.
Sam Nungesser, the editor-in-chief of The Montclarion, says everyone has done an exceptional job reporting important stories and is happy to be recognized at the state level. She reflected upon their perseverance despite the obstacle of starting back up again since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“As editor-in-chief, I am so happy and proud of all the writers whether they won an award or not,” Nungesser said. “This group has really grown to be like family. And I think that’s been really evident through the work we’ve put out. I’m so happy for everyone and I can’t wait to keep doing what we love to finish the year out strong.”
Though moving from online to an in-person environment was a tough transition, she says The Montclarion has improved and it made the team’s bond stronger.
“There was so much we needed to organize and learn as a team not only about producing a newspaper but also about each other since a majority of us had never met in person before,” Nungesser said. “However, the fact that with so much of this trial and error we have been able to do such an amazing job is so exciting and makes everything worth it.”
The Montclarion won two first-place awards in the general excellence category and the photography category for the featured photo in John LaRosa’s “Montclair State Students Stand Up to Hate Speech Demonstrators on Campus.”
NJPF awarded five second-place awards to The Montclarion. Carley Campbell’s “Resident Students React to Campus Tours” won second place in the COVID-19 coverage category. Sal DiMaggio’s “Charles Ezenwanne Raises The Bar for Disadvantaged Stem Students with Award-Winning Lung Cancer Research,” won second place in the biography profile category. The Montclarion also won second place in the feature writing category for Maddye Belov-Boxer’s “Local Man Spends 16 Years Fighting Montclair State and Wins,” the editorial writing category for Belov-Boxer’s “Editorial: Three Cheers for 62 Years of Parking Woes” and the online video category for Kevin Murrugarra’s “Freshman Film Students of Montclair State.”
Third place awards were given in the investigative reporting category for Givonna Boggans’ “Montclair State University Made Over $1 Million In Parking Tickets In the Last Three Years” and in the sports writing category for Matt Orth’s “Former Montclair State Linebacker Sam Mills Inducted into 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
LaRosa, the photo editor of The Montclarion, won first place in the photography category. LaRosa says he was walking around campus as he spontaneously captured that award-winning moment.
“Right place, right time — that’s all I can really say, but I’m grateful to the entire Montclarion team for getting that story out there,” LaRosa said.
Hannah Effinger, the assistant production editor of The Montclarion, expressed how amazing she feels to be a part of the award-winning team.
“All of the writers, photographers and editors work so hard all year long to get these incredible stories out and it’s so great that they’re being awarded for it,” Effinger said.
Since recently joining the Montclarion, she already feels like she’s part of a family, especially working with Ian Long, the production editor of The Montclarion.
“Everyone is so amazing and kind, and it’s so cool to see how everyone comes together every week to put together the paper – it’s really like a family and it’s definitely an amazing experience,” Effinger said. “I love working as an assistant production editor under Ian, they’re honestly, like, the best person ever and they’re always so helpful and encouraging when I want to try new things within the layout.”
Emma Caughlan, the managing editor of The Montclarion, said how proud she is of the team winning nine awards for the second time in a row. She spotlighted their improvement, her friendships becoming stronger and the new ones she made along the way.
“I think that after [COVID-19], this was a really great opportunity for me, personally, to build connections with people that are interested in the same things as me,” Caughlan said. “And not only did that happen but my expectations for that were exceeded and I made friendships with some really awesome people this year. So, I can’t think of a group that’s more deserving of these awards.”
She says the awards are a great testament to the hard work The Montclarion executed and wants to keep this success path going.
“I’m super excited for all the winners and I’m proud of all of our writers, staff and everyone involved because I think it’s been a super successful year,” Caughlan said. “I’m really looking forward to continuing with that excellence and getting even better, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”
Tara George, the head of the journalism and television and digital media department in the School of Communication and Media, is the faculty advisor for The Montclarion. She is proud of the team’s persistence through the pandemic.
“I’m so proud of The Montclarion team,” George said. “They’ve done an excellent job of keeping the news flowing through the pandemic and keeping each other going, too. They’ve got a lot to celebrate.”
The award winners are invited to participate in the NJ Collegiate Press Spring Awards Luncheon on April 9, 2022, where plaques will be given to the winners of the contest.