Honoring Winners at the 14th Annual Ippies Awards

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer addresses guests at the 14th annual Ippies Awards hosted by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, NY, on June 2, 2016. (Photo by Skyler Reid)

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer addresses guests at the 14th annual Ippies Awards hosted by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York City on June 2, 2016. (Photo by Skyler Reid)

The 14th annual Ippies Awards were hosted by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism on June 2, with about 140 journalists, city representatives and others in attendance. The awards are the only journalism prizes given in New York City that honor reporting in English and other languages by the ethnic and community press and are considered a benchmark of journalistic excellence.

(Photo by Yeo Ram Choi for Voices of NY)

(Photo by Yeo Ram Choi for Voices of NY)

City Comptroller Scott Stringer addressed the attendees, lauding the work that they do. “So many of you in this room, your publications, the work that you do, is really the future of New York City. When you think about New York right now, it’s unlike any other place in the world. We speak 170 different languages from 200 countries and we need the community newspaper, the ethnic media, to tell the story about what’s going on in New York.”

The story of communities, community boards, activists, parents associations and what’s happening across the city, Stringer said, has to be told “on the ground from the bottom up.” He noted that the city and city dollars have to do a better job of supporting these outlets. “There’s something not right when city dollars go to a certain group of newspapers and crumbs are given to the rest of the media.”

(Photo by Yeo Ram Choi for Voices of NY)

(Photo by Yeo Ram Choi for Voices of NY)

What’s more, he said, the information about jobs and services the city offers have to be readily available to residents. Now more than ever, he said, with people coming from all over the world to live here, “we do have to do a better job engaging them.”

The originally scheduled speaker, City Council member Carlos Menchaca, was unable to attend.

Dean Sarah Bartlett, in her remarks, noted that CCEM gives the J-School a “chance to make sure that we stay very connected to the rich and vibrant diverse ethnic and community media in the city.”

Sung E Bai, chief of staff of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), also delivered a few words to the attendees, saying: “I think everyone here agrees on the critical importance of the work you all do, and MOIA and Mayor de Blasio are equally deeply committed to community and ethnic media.”

Master of Ceremonies Randall Pinkston and investigative journalist and CUNY J-School professor Tom Robbins shared the duties of announcing the winners, following a short introduction and description of the center’s activities by CCEM Co-directors Jehangir Khattak and Karen Pennar.

CUNY Graduate School of Journalism's Dean Sarah Bartlett with guests at the opening reception for the 14th annual Ippies Awards hosted by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, NY, on June 2, 2016. Photo by Skyler Reid

CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Dean Sarah Bartlett with guests at the opening reception for the 14th annual Ippies Awards. (Photo by Skyler Reid)

Winners of the Ippies represented a wide range of publications in the city. The top prize for small circulation publication was shared by two publications, the Norwood News and The Riverdale Press, both based in the Bronx. Norwood News had won the honor last year, when the category was first introduced.

In second place for best small circulation publication was The Lo-Down, the publication co-founded by Ed Litvak and Traven Rice which covers Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Third place was garnered by Represent Magazine, which the judges said “has a strong advocacy voice” and prides itself on providing “a voice for youth in foster care.”

Shant Shahrigian (left), editor of the Riverdale Press, and David Cruz, editor-in-chief of the Norwood News, accept a tied award for Best Small Circulation Publication. (Photo by Skyler Reid)

Shant Shahrigian (left), editor of The Riverdale Press, and David Cruz, editor-in-chief of the Norwood News, accept a tied award for best small circulation publication. (Photo by Skyler Reid)

The Norwood News also walked away with best award in the investigative/in-depth story category for the story “Tenants Turn Heat Up on Landlord,” by David Cruz. The story explored how tenants of buildings owned by a large real estate company filed complaints about heating, and the story prompted the City Comptroller’s office to investigate.

Mariela Lombard of El Diario and Zaira Cortés take a selfie with their respective awards. (Photo by Skyler Reid)

Mariela Lombard of El Diario and Zaira Cortés take a selfie with their respective awards. (Photo by Skyler Reid)

Second place winner in the investigative category was The Forward, for its story on the fiscal collapse of one of New York’s largest and most venerated social service organizations, and in third place was World Journal, with a story about a Chinese laborer who died of cancer at 48, unable to bring his family here.

The Voices of NY award, which honors a member of the community and ethnic press who has done extraordinary work in the previous year went to Zaira Cortés, formerly with El Diario. She was cited for her stories on “everything from illegal cockfighting to Mexican drug lords to the legal troubles and language barriers faced by Mixteca immigrants.”

Colin Benjamin of Black Star News is congratulated by his editor, Milton Allimadi. (Photo by Skyler Reid0

Colin Benjamin of Black Star News is congratulated by his editor, Milton Allimadi. (Photo by Skyler Reid)

The award for best editorial/commentary was received by Colin Benjamin of Black Star News for “South Carolina Massacre and The Hate That Produced Dylan Roof.”

The judges said the piece “looks beneath the surface of the events surrounding the brutal massacre in South Carolina and the subsequent push to remove the Confederate flag from the state capital.” Benjamin, the judges continued, “exposes the racism of some Republican officials and a political climate that helps to produce people like Dylan Roof.”

The Ippies Awards 2016 event was held at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. On entering the building at 219 West 40th St., guests were greeted by a steel drum player. Upstairs, they sampled ethnic foods from Iraq, Syria, Nepal and Eritrea prepared by refugee chefs from the catering company Eat Offbeat. A glatt kosher table was provided by Mendy’s. Following the awards ceremony, a guitar player strummed during the dessert reception.

A complete list of winners, with links to the winning entries, can be accessed at the website of the Center for Community and Ethnic Media.

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