JJC Student Journalists, Blazer Reporters Win 18 ICCJA Awards

Joliet Junior College’s student newspaper, The Blazer, and the student journalists behind it won 18 awards at the Illinois Community College Journalism Association’s (ICCJA) annual spring conference in April – the most awards the newspaper has ever earned at once in its 80-year history.

Blazer staff members show off the awards they received at the 2016 Illinois Community College Journalism Association (ICCJA) conference.

Blazer staff members show off the awards they received at the 2016 Illinois Community College Journalism Association (ICCJA) conference.

“We definitely put in a lot of hard work this past year, and we’ve had a lot of new people and new talent,” said Shanielle Fulton, co-editor-in-chief.

Fulton, who resides in Joliet, received one of the most prestigious awards at the conference: Reporter of the Year. The Reporter of the Year award is one of the most honorable because there is a larger pool of candidates, with each ICCJA district participating. One of the stories that contributed to her win was a feature about JJC’s “unsung heroes,” or the college’s night shift crew, a group of individuals who work at JJC between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The Blazer also received third place for newspaper website. Andrew Hanton, co-editor-in-chief, said it’s been a personal project of his to make The Blazer’s website a bigger priority this year. He felt validated when he heard the paper placed in the category. His future goals for the paper include creating a more visible online presence and taking advantage of their social media channels.

Fulton and Hanton credit The Blazer’s success at the ICCJA conference this year not only to the fact that they work well as a team, but also to the connection and friendship between the staff, and their journalism professor and adviser, Bob Marcink.

“Bob works with us one-on-one, and regularly comes in to help us,” Hanton said, adding that he thinks Marcink’s knowledge of the field and personal touch is what really makes JJC a great school for journalism.

Overall, the entire Blazer staff, which includes a group of more than 10 students who have had a passion for writing and storytelling since they were young, feel like they have made a lot of strides this year after winning such a large quantity of awards at the conference.

“It was very motivating that we won so many awards,” said Jens Schommer, photo editor.

The Blazer is my favorite thing at JJC,” added Elias Albert, staff writer. “We have a great adviser and great editors. The Blazer is just this friendly zone where you constantly feel comfortable.”

Awards recipients included:

Tommy Markasovic of Frankfort, third place in graphics; Brittney Andersen of Wilmington, second place in advertising; Jami Shawmeker of Romeoville, second place in sports photography; Jens Schommer of New Lenox, second place and honorable mention in news photography; Eli Albert of New Lenox, second place in sports news, third place in sports feature; Adam Tumino of Lockport, second place in sports feature; Andrew Hanton of Plainfield, third place in news story, honorable mention in feature story and honorable mention in editorials; Joel Roza of Joliet, first place in arts and entertainment, second place in sports column, third place in news story; Emma Carter of Homer Glen, first place in Division I for news column; and Shanielle Fulton of Joliet (formerly of Detroit, Michigan), Reporter of the Year and honorable mention for critical editorials. The Blazer as a whole took third place in newspaper website.

For more information about The Blazer, visit www.jjcblazer.com. For more information about studying journalism at JJC, contact Bob Marcink at rmarcink@jjc.edu or visit http://www.jjc.edu/english-world-lang.

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