By Alyssa Seidman
When the Press Club of Long Island, the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, held its 40th annual Media Awards dinner at the Woodbury Country club on Thursday, June 5, Post alum would be in attendance, not as spectators but as recognized writers. “We are celebrating the most outstanding journalists [on Long Island] from the past year,” said Chris Vaccaro, the newly elected PCLI chapter president.
Among this year’s finalists were The Pioneer’s own Adrianna Alvarez, David Otero, and Dorianna Valerio. The Pioneer and Alvarez took first place for “Best College News Story Narrative” in the “Student Journalism” category for the article “MRSA or Misunderstanding?” which was featured on the front page of the September 11, 2013 issue of The Pioneer.
Alvarez, The Pioneer’s 2013 News Editor, graduated in December 2013. She explained her process of writing an award-winning piece: “It’s kind of ironic [that my story won] because I got a phone call early in the morning asking if I would go and try to write it up and get it sent in within a 12 hour span,” Alvarez said. “It was really hectic, and really chaotic, and I didn’t even think it was that good. And to end up winning this award just goes to show that dedication and hard work really does pay off, and that sometimes when you’re more stressed you tend to put out better work.”
Since graduating last December, Alvarez has been working as a counselor for the developmentally disabled, and plans to move to Boston in the fall to begin her masters in Gender/Cultural Studies and Managementat Simmons College. “I hope to find a journalism job. I really want to write about social issues in regards to gender,” Alvarez said.
This is the second consecutive year that The Pioneer has been recognized with an award by the Society of Professional Journalists. During the 2012-13 school year, The Pioneer won two awards from the organization for “Breaking News Reporting” and “General News Reporting.”
“PCLI is an amazing group. They really go out of their way to recognize journalists who make an impact on Long Island, even student journalists,” Alvarez added. “Since I joined SPJ, I think that it has really opened my eyes and encouraged me to just go out there and try my hardest, and even if something doesn’t come out the way that you planned you don’t know who’s going to recognize [your efforts].”
Valerio, who was recognized with an award as the Editor-in-Chief of The Pioneer when the story was published, graduated in May. She will be heading to CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism this fall, an intensive three-semester program designed to prepare gifted graduate students for careers in journalism.
“I’m really proud of Adrianna,” Valerio said. “She worked hard to report on a touchy subject, and she covered it fairly and accurately. She is really a representation of how hard The Pioneer’s writers work to provide the campus with important information. I’m [also] really proud of everyone who is part of the [newspaper]. As much as Adrianna did win the award, we all won the award – every member of Post – and that’s something to be very proud of.”
When asked about her hopes for the future of The Pioneer, Valerio said, “I hope that the campus community continues to engage with reporters and photographers, which has really been improving, and is a good sign of transparency. On the other hand, I want to see the administration open up to The Pioneer. The campus is a family, and it’s disheartening to get important information from outside sources.”