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The Leader staffers with awards
The Leader staffers with awards

(Photo credit: Drew Paluch)

Gathering in The Leader office with New York Press Association awards collected by the newspaper during the past two years are: (back row, from left): Henry Domst, Will Karr, Alyssa Bump, Sierra Mills, faculty adviser Elmer Ploetz, Max Hamilton and Matt Volz; (front row, from left) Chloe Kowalyk, Megan Kidby and EJ Jacobs.

  • June 5, 2023
  • Roger Coda

The Leader, the student newspaper at the State University of New York at Fredonia, won a pair of first place awards, along with a second-place award and honorable mention designation, in the New York Press Association’s 2022 Better College Newspaper Contest.

“Wow. This jumps out at you. Not your typical looking college newspaper but has it all.” That was an impression The Leader made on one of the judges on its way to the NYPA’s top Design award. The newspaper’s design was found to be “well organized, with an amazing front cover and photographs throughout the issue.”

The Leader was in competition with college newspapers across the state for the awards that were for the 2022 calendar year.

Alyssa Bump, Will Karr
(Photo credit: Kayla Welsh)
Proudly displaying 2022 first-place award plaques for Design and Best Sports Coverage, respectively, are Alyssa Bump and Will Karr.

Jules Hoepting, a 2022 graduate with a B.S. in Communication: Public Relations and minors in Writing and Rhetoric and Environmental Studies, and Alyssa Bump, a 2023 graduate with majors in Communication: Journalism and Communication: Public Relations, designed the award-winning issues in the spring and fall semesters, respectively.

It was the student newspaper’s second consecutive NYPA first-place Design award in as many years.
Three articles propelled The Leader to a first place in Best Sports Coverage. “A brotherhood that transcends boundaries,” by 2023 Communication: Journalism graduate Will Karr, profiled two men’s basketball players, Alon Kremerman and Alon Haimovitz, and the journey they took across America from Israel to play collegiate basketball at SUNY Fredonia.

Mr. Karr, the Life & Arts editor in the Fall 2022 semester, when the article was published, went on to become the newspaper’s editor-in-chief in the Spring 2023 semester.

Articles also contributing to the Best Sports Coverage award were “For the love of hockey: Canadian goaltender drove 30 plus hours in winter conditions to get to Fredonia,” about sophomore Zach Willms, by Ms. Hoepting, and “Blue Devil cheerleaders build bonds through love of sport,” by Alana Wingate, a sophomore Communication: Journalism major.

Karalyn Hope, a ’22 graduate with a B.S. in Music Industry, won second place in Photography for her overhead photo of the student rock group Pool Kids performing at a former off-campus music venue. The image appeared in Issue 10 (March 22, 2022) during the Spring 2022 semester.

“I think the awards result in part from the way The Leader reflects SUNY Fredonia itself,” said Communication Associate Professor Elmer Ploetz. “The print design is both artful and colorful, and the sports stories that earned recognition – written by Will Karr, Alana Wingate and Jules Hoepting – looked beyond the playing field at the athletes as people.

“Karalyn Hope's second-place photo captured the feel of a house concert venue, leaving the judge to note ‘(it) provides an unfiltered sense of place. Gritty & fun,’" Mr. Ploetz remarked. “Favorite feature photo of the competition” was how one judge rated Hope’s image.

The Leader was also accorded Honorable Mention in General Excellence. 

“I feel so proud to have worked with The Leader during my undergraduate experience at Fredonia. I have learned so much about the people who make up Fredonia's vibrant community. I am so grateful for the difficult but rewarding work The Leader cohort has done to share their stories,” Ms. Bump explained.

“Our team holds so much passion and purpose, and The Leader has been a truly magical environment of insurmountable growth for me and several other students,” Bump added.

Hoepting was design editor when the newspaper transitioned from a weekly tabloid to a news/magazine format published biweekly, or every two weeks.

“Her keen eye for creative presentations of stories has inspired me greatly,” Bump said. “Without Jules' guidance, creativity and determination as an editor, I doubt The Leader would continue to earn first place in Design. I am so grateful for her mentorship, and I feel so proud to have continued on her legacy after she graduated and I took over designing The Leader.”

Alon Hairmovitz, Will Karr and Alon Kremerman
(Photo credit: Abbie Miller)
Will Karr (center), with Alon Haimovitz (left) and Alon Kremerman, two basketball players who were chronicled in his award-winning article that was part of the Leader's the award for Best Sports Coverage.

“After we redesigned our publication to print biweekly in a news-magazine format rather than printing weekly as a tabloid, we decided as a team to submit for New York Press Association's 2021 Better Newspaper Contest,” Bump said.

The Leader’s robust showing in the 2022 contest mirrors the success achieved in 2021, with a first place in Design and a trio of second place awards: General Excellence; News Story, for an article written by Chloe Kowalyk; and Photography, for an image by Justine Bloom.

That 2021 success signaled the Leader’s triumphant return to statewide newspaper competition after not being entered in contests for several years leading up to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve been immensely proud of the work The Leader has been doing through the years, and since we’ve started submitting for awards we’ve been starting to see recognition for it,” said Mr. Ploetz, the newspaper’s faculty adviser.

“The Leader has come out of the pandemic with a really strong staff and I'm looking forward to seeing what the paper will do in the coming year as Chloe Kowalyk, one of the paper's best reporters for the past three years and managing editor in 2022-23, steps into the editor-in-chief role that Alyssa and Will have filled over the past two years,” Mr. Ploetz added.