Anton publisher speaks at Post journalism awards
LIU Post recently held its annual event honoring the upper echelon of student journalism—the Best of High School Journalism Awards—where Long Island’s next generation of hard-boiled reporters were given their due for their biting editorials and hard-hitting features over the past school year.
After tours of the campus and lunch, students from across Long Island packed into LIU Post’s Hillwood Lecture Hall for an awards presentation. Each school present at the event represented winning entries in the contest in categories ranging from Best Feature, Sports Story, Online Publication and more. But first, the proceedings were opened by a special keynote address on the subject of “fake news” by Angela Susan Anton, owner and publisher of Anton Media Group.
“It is an honor to be here today to celebrate the work done by budding journalists and, of course, their teachers who support and encourage and train them as well. Never has real journalism been more important in our communities and our larger society,” she said. “We’ve been reading and hearing a lot in recent months about ‘fake news.’ Do all of you know what that is? It’s false, biased, and inaccurate, untrustworthy information, stuff that is made up and packaged to look like real news. We see it on Facebook and Twitter and other social media, on websites, on our cellphones…it is everywhere.”
Anton said the reason why society should be worried about this phenomena is because many people can have difficulty telling “fake news” apart from other news, especially when fake news appears at the top of Google searches. But by heading into journalism and running their own individual student newspapers, she noted, the students are arming themselves with the knowledge needed to sort fact from fiction and to learn the vital importance between the two.
“You are learning to search for the truth and how to report it,” she said. “You’re providing your fellow students with the accurate information that they need to know about their schools. You’re doing exactly what should be done to help abolish this alarming trend of fake news that is spreading.”
Despite the fact that the going can be tough for journalists in this day and age, Anton encouraged the students to persevere and to never allow their resolve to weaken.
“It may be hard to get information for your stories. Deadlines are difficult. School administrations may not be happy with the information that you were reporting. You may not sleep much,” she said. “And yet, what you do has great importance to your schools and communities. Truthful, well-reported stories are essential to making sure people are informed and that institutions are accountable. Truly good journalism is a craft that’s well worth the time and effort that you put into it. Keep doing what you are doing…our world needs you.”
After Anton’s stirring speech, the awards ceremony began in earnest. Maya Masheb, a sophomore at Jericho High School and junior managing editor at its student-run online newspaper, The JerEcho, won second place in the Best Feature Story category. Her article, entitled “Testing Religion,” was described by judges as a thoughtful, articulate piece about the challenges faced by Muslim students when the holiday of Ramadan overlapped with final exams week.
“My article centers on the fact that Ramadan, an important Muslim holiday, fell right in the middle of our final exams, which made it very difficult for Muslim students because they were fasting during that period from sun up to sundown…it’s difficult to focus when you’re not eating or drinking all day. They had to prepare themselves in many different ways to deal with it,” she said. “It feels really good to have won for this article…I definitely worked really hard on it and I’m happy that it was recognized.”
In addition, Jericho High School also brought home a first-place award for The JerEcho, which the judges noted was an impressive collection of hard-hitting news reporting on school, local and world news with professional-quality photographs, weekly polls and more. Senior and editor-in-chief Nick Albicocco, who accepted the award, said that it was a great honor and a hard-fought victory for the many talented and passionate journalists on his staff.
“I’m very proud of the hard work that everyone involved in the paper puts into it,” he said. “We try to cover a variety of different stories and to really set us apart from other school newspapers…I really think that we’re the best out there and it shows in the work that we do every single day.”