Thursday, 26 November 2015, 4:30 am

Big day for journalism students

(From left) Nick Fearns, Nechelle Venturini, Collin Stachura, Kyle Melanson, Jesse Robitaille and Christopher Breen pose with their awards. PHOTO BY KEVIN FARRELLBy KEVIN FARRELL
Staff Writer
Two themes emerged at the Niagara College Journalism awards for students in the Journalism program: there are opportunities close to home and there are opportunities abroad.
Before the current students were presented with their awards, a recent graduate, Rick DeVries, was presented with an honorary award via Skype from Newfoundland after being nominated for Best Student Photography in Ontario in the Ontario Community Newspaper Association’s 2013 Better Newspaper Competition (BNC).
(DeVries won the top prize at an awards ceremony last week).
DeVries has founded his own magazine focusing on amateur and professional photography, called Caprice Magazine, which is in its fourth issue.
Journalism was one of the founding programs at Niagara College in 1967 with its first newspaper published in 1968. “Students needed a year to learn how,” said Paul Dayboll, the Journalism program co-ordinator.
Every year Journalism students learn how so they can be ready for the job fulltime in Year 2. The Journalism Awards are held annually to highlight the program as well as the students’ hard work that make each issue of Niagara News possible.
The ceremony was held in the boardroom of the Applied Health building at the Welland campus.
Long tables lined the sides and front, and chairs lined the outside of the boardroom table for attendees that included instructors as well as current, local professionals in the field, including John Robbins, publisher of Bullet News Niagara, along with Bullet staffers Lisa Rind and Kris Dubé, Managing Editor Dan Dakin from The Welland Tribune and sports editor Bernie Puchalski from The St. Catharines Standard.
Two honorary awards were presented to program students Jesse Cole and Jesse Robitaille and then the official awards were presented.
Misheck Mwaba, dean of Media and Technology, presented the Senator Keith Davey Award, a $,1500 memorial scholarship and the program’s highest honour. Mwaba quoted Senator Davey: “Always do a favour; never carry a grudge.” Recipient was Nick Fearns, who is on field placement at Bullet News Niagara.
Phyllis Barnatt, Journalism faculty, presented the E.W.N. Morgan Award, the oldest award in the program. The winner was Nechelle Venturini for her photojournalism skills.
The Chair’s Award was presented by Greg Unrau.
“The best journalists are not motivated by money or ego but by something that’s bothering them or others,” said Unrau before presenting it to first-year student Christopher Breen.
The Niagara Falls Review Award was presented by Welland Tribune managing editor and graduate of the Niagara College Journalism program, Dan Dakin.
“He understands journalistic writing: the beauty of the short, conversational sentence and the grace of several of them strung together that lead the reader to want more,” Dakin said before presenting the award for the Most Likely to Succeed in Journalism to second-year student Kyle Melanson.
The Faculty Award was presented by journalism professor and  Niagara News Managing Editor Charles Kopun.
“What really distinguishes our winner this year is his poise under pressure and his ability to learn new skills quickly — and in short order master them,” Kopun said before presenting the award to second-year student Jesse Robitaille. Referring to how Robitaille handled being assigned a story on the spot, Kopun quipped, “He got the story. Got it right and more than expected. He made the tightest of deadlines. No drama, no questions, no fanfare. Any editor in any newsroom would be envious.”
The final award was from the Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild. Dakin returned to the podium to present it to second-year student Collin Stachura.
“And knowing Collin he’s not finished yet. He’ll be suggesting stories until we get that diploma in his hand,” Dakin said.
Evident at the event is the fact the Journalism program is one that students and teachers alike take great pride in, and current professionals in the field are also taking notice of the work being done by the students.

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