By Emily Tenorio Molina, Staff Writer

November 5, 2022

On Saturday, Oct. 22 The Citizen won accolades from the Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC) at the 2022 Northern California conference.

The newsroom accepted awards in three categories and an honorable mention in a fourth category. The General Excellence award, which is the highest honor a publication can receive from the JACC, was given to The Citizen, marking the first time the newsroom received the recognition.

The awards recognize the newsroom’s dedication to inform and report unbiasedly on issues and events that mark the experiences of Peralta students and community members.

Associate Editor David Rowe won first place in the Feature Story (non-profile) category for RV Resident Tells His Side of the Story, which detailed an alleged altercation between Peralta Community College District’s (PCCD) Director of Safety Tim Thomas and Thomas Jensen, an RV resident who lives near the district offices. This is Rowe’s second year receiving an award from the JACC.

“It was a great honor to win the award and it would not have been possible without the efforts of my classmates,” Rowe said. He’d also like to thank Ken Lester, current Managing Editor at The Citizen, for helping him with the photography for the award-winning story.

Rowe would like to encourage students interested in journalism to explore writing opportunities and find teachers who can provide support.

“My only advice would be to find a great teacher like Prof. Gastis who is passionate about journalism and to take advantage of internship opportunities,” Rowe said.

Editor in Chief Shiloh Johnston won third place in the News Story category for District Backtracks Sky-High Travel Request, which raised questions about PCCD’s adherence to its travel policies for district administrators earlier this year. Additionally, Johnston’s profile on the newly opened Union Bank at Laney College received an honorable mention in the Profile Feature Story category.

As the new Editor in Chief, Johnston acknowledged the role that past editors and staff writers have played in teaching him the value of focusing on stories that matter.

“I’m standing on the backs of giants who taught me the importance of keeping our district accountable,” Johnston explained.

“I think it speaks to the reason our newsroom won the General Excellence award,” Johnston said, “I feel like my own recognition was not earned alone.”

Staff writer Gretchen Zimmermann won fourth place in the News Story category for her coverage on the return to campus during the Fall 2021 semester. That was the first article she wrote for The Citizen.

Describing the process of writing the article, Zimmermann found difficulty in clarifying   PCCD’s convoluted COVID guidelines and communicating them to the readers. In the end, she thought the best approach was to show rather than tell.

“I try to put myself in the reader’s shoes, as if they don’t know the topic,” she explained, “and try to make the information as clear as possible.”

A piece of advice Zimmermann would like to share with current and future writers is the advice she got from former Editor in Chief Luke Wrin Piper:

“Write something you’d enjoy reading.”

The Citizen believes that collaboration between the editors and staff writers is part of the reason the newsroom won these awards. Ken Lester, the current Managing Editor, sees the newsroom as a learning environment for the team.

“For most people it’s their first time writing for a proper news publication,” Lester said, “so keeping an open line of communication between the staff and the editors, who at least have a semester or two of experience, is key.”

Writers work diligently during editing, a fundamental part of journalism, as it ensures the reliability of the content. As Lester puts it, “everybody just wants it to be the best possible end product.”