Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Spirited journalists swarm Sacramento

    Califorina’s JACC Statewide conference kicks off: Laney Tower wins 11 awards

    by JORDAN HANKSTON

    Laney Tower delegates pose for a photo on March 30 at the 2019 Journalism Association of Community Colleges conference awards ceremony. Reporter Isis Piccillo won first place in an opinion writing contest, Tower co-editor Saskia Hatvany placed in the news writing and editorial cartoon categories. Photo by Eleni Gastis / Laney Faculty.

    Curiosity, passion, courage and ethics are the qualities that drive a journalist’s heart.

    Community college journalism students gathered to celebrate these qualities in what could prove to be a life-changing experience at the annual Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC) conference in Sacramento on March 28–30.

    Students participated in competitions, student elections and award ceremonies, while professional journalists led interactive workshops or gave informative talks.

    The keynote speaker was Kevin Fagan, who has been a reporter and editor of the San Francisco Chronicle for 26 years.

    His keynote address was the basis of an opinion contest, in which the Laney Tower’s Isis Piccillo won first place.

    “Opinion articles are one of my favorite types of pieces to write. I knew I wanted to enter that contest before I had even got there,” Piccillo said.

    During his speech, Fagan spoke about his experiences covering news topics like drug use and homelessness in rough areas of San Francisco. While Piccillo praised Fagan for his journalistic accomplishments, they took issue with his rough diction, which included words such as “transvestite” and “crack whore.”

    “Hearing those words was very jarring coming from someone who was obviously very caring,” Piccillo said. “My reaction to that was very strong, and I knew I had something to say.”

    Even so, Piccillo was unsure about the reception the opinion column would receive from the judges.

    “It’s hard to critique people of his stature, because they’ve done so much good,” they said. “I thought maybe I shouldn’t be saying this, but in the end I felt good about the piece, so I was hoping to get recognized for that.”

    Evan Solano, who led a newspaper design-oriented workshop which aimed to increase each attendee’s knowledge of Adobe’s InDesign and Photoshop software, was returning to present at the conference after participating as a student himself.

    “I won second place in newspaper design at the first JACC conference I attended, and I never really believed in myself before that,” he said. “Winning that award reaffirmed what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it.”

    Now a page designer for the Southern California News Group (SCNG) and design director for the LAnd Magazine, Solano attributed his past experiences as a student at the JACC conference to his solidified interest in journalism.

    “I want to keep giving back, even in my professional career,” Solano said. “I want to help students get to that same level. It’s amazing to see that look of shock and excitement on people’s faces when you show them a new trick on Photoshop or InDesign.”

    The conference was also host to the JACC student elections. New board members were elected, including Santa Barbara City College student June Starkey, who was nominated to the office of Student President.

    “This is actually the first JACC conference I’ve been to,” said Starkey. “Overall I’m feeling good, but I am nervous, it’s a big job, but I think I can handle it. It’s a responsibility that I’m willing to take on for the betterment of this conference.”

    The events came to a close on March 30 with an awards banquet. Students, college faculty and convention speakers gathered to recognize the accomplishments of individual reporters and entire newspapers.

    The Laney Tower secured 11 accolades, including the esteemed newspaper General Excellence award.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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