The Argus dominates at Illinois College Press Association conference

Katie Fata

The Argus staff in their office in the Memorial center.
(Top, left to right: Katie Fata, Isabel Sperry, Olivia Jacobs, and James Stein. Bottom, left to right: Sophia Heilman, Emma Cottrell, Samira Kassem, and Andrew Zienty.)

The Argus took home twelve awards at the 2021 Illinois College Press Association (ICPA) awards on Feb. 20. The staff received the most awards the paper has gotten since 2003. 

Every year members of  newspapers within ICPA nominate entries in over thirty categories, and the best writing, editing, design, photography, columns, features, reviews and sports writing are honored at an annual convention in Chicago. 

Due to COVID-19, this year’s conference looked quite a bit different than other years. The staff did not get to travel to Chicago or attend an in-person awards ceremony. Instead, the conference, like so many things these days, was held via Zoom. 

Regardless, the staff masked up and gathered in their office in the Memorial Center to watch the ceremony. 

“Going to Chicago as a staff for ICPA is something that our staff looks forward to every year, so it was difficult to get the news that it would be virtual this year,” Editor in Chief Samira Kassem said. “Taking home more awards than we have in over 15 years really helped us feel better, however. I could not be more proud of how my staff has adapted and remained unfazed by everything that has been thrown at us with COVID and financial restraints.”

Current Sports Editor senior Andrew Zienty was the lone first place finisher. Zienty was awarded first in the sports game story category for his piece ‘IWU cross country competes in first virtual CCIW championships.’ 

“Winning this award as a newer member of staff is very fulfilling because it shows how all of the work we put into our writing can pay off. I take pride in the work that I do and knowing that it is appreciated means a lot to me, ” Zienty said. 

Jon Recchia, who graduated last May, was awarded second place in the sports game story category for his piece ‘Titans Demonstrate Kobe’s “Mamba mentality.’

Recchia, along with 2020 graduate Tera Wilson, also took home second in the podcast category for their Argus podcast Slightly Underwhelming.

   Also in sports, 2020 graduate Hannah Horn won second place for sports page design for her work on page eight of the February 7, 2020 issue.

The final second place finisher was senior Gabrielle Ghaderi who was awarded for her piece, ‘“Judas Iscarioit” makes waves at Illinois Wesleyan’ in the critical review other than film category.

Senior Matthew Wagner won third for the sports photo category for his submissions of the September 11 cross country time trials. 

“Finding sports writers and editors is probably the most challenging of all of the sections since we have to find someone who not only knows sports well, but can also write. It was a big victory for us to take home multiple awards for sports reporting this year,” Kassem said. 

Third place finishes include current Opinions Editor, senior Emma Cottrell for opinion page design in the January 31, 2020 issue, senior David O’Neil for feature photo and junior Sarah Buchmann in column excluding sports for her piece ‘Today’s climate impacts women’s mental health.’ 

Honorable mentions were awarded to Kassem for headline writing for her piece ‘AOC +3 living in Trump’s mind rent-free’ and for photo essay along with O’Neil for their piece ‘A very merry COVID homecoming.’

Managing Editor, junior Katie Fata also received an honorable mention for general news photo

“Mostly I hope this helps people realize how hard we work to publish a paper every week. It is not an easy task, and we really do pour our hearts and souls into the Argus. This recognition is confirmation that our commitment and hard work is paying off.” Kassem said. “ Without the staff, the paper would have gone under when COVID stopped printing and sent everyone home from campus.”  

The staff plans to funnel their excitement from this year’s awards into planning for next year and remains hopeful that next year’s conference will return to Chicago and be in person.   

Anyone interested in writing or taking pictures for the Argus should contact [email protected].