Ithaca College student Maura Aleardi helped The Ithacan win two Best of Show awards.
Maura Aleardi of Moorestown has always loved to write, but she didn’t think she wanted to pursue a career in the field until she started writing for Moorestown Friends School’s newspaper. Today, the Ithaca College student has recently assisted her collegiate newspaper, “The Ithacan,” in winning first place in Best of Show for its website and fifth place in Best of Show for its print edition, awards presented by the Associated Collegiate Press convention.
To win these awards, a student publication must submit their work to the Associated Collegiate, and a panel of judges assesses the entries and selects the winning college and university publications. According to Aleardi, helping to earn the newspaper its two awards this year, “The Ithacan” staff has been working over the past two years to improve its website and to move from print-first publication to a daily, online-first publication.
“It was so great [to win these awards]. We work so hard throughout the year on top of classes and other work, so knowing that our hard work is paying off and being recognized is really amazing,” Aleardi said.
During her time working on the MFS newspaper, “WordsWorth,” Aleardi felt she had found something she was good at and she really enjoyed. Although the MFS newspaper staff was especially small, this gave the aspiring journalist the opportunity to learn a lot about the industry and to improve her stills.
“The faculty advisors of that paper, Deb Galler and Diana Day, were so supportive of everyone on the staff, and their real-world experience was so helpful,” Aleardi said, “I think they gave me the confidence and assurance that this was something I could pursue.”
As she prepared for her transition from high school to college, Aleardi began researching journalism schools across the country. Ultimately, Ithaca College stood out to her for its strong journalism program, hands-on nature and for its popular, successful collegiate newspaper.
“I signed up for ‘The Ithacan’ first thing my freshman year at Ithaca College. Since that was such a big part of why I chose the school, I wasn’t going to miss any time being part of it,” the current community engagement coordinator of the student-run publication said.
When Aleardi first began writing for the newspaper as a freshman, she was given the task of writing one to two news stories each week. Now she is in charge of running the paper’s social media accounts and getting word of the publication out around campus. With this new role, she has learned when it comes to social media, it’s nearly impossible to plan everything in advance.
“Social media is all about things happening in real time, so I have to make sure that our accounts are doing that. That involves paying attention to events on campus, breaking news, etc.,” she said.
Although the timeliness of happenings across campus can present challenges, Aleardi loves seeing her online audience interact on social media. She said her favorite part of her commitment to the newspaper is getting to watch strangers comment on and share her content.
“‘The Ithacan’ helped me exercise fundamental journalistic skills. I have learned how to be a good journalist no matter what I’m writing about,” Aleardi said. “I’ve written about administration, student organizations, national survey results, and I’ve had experience with writing stories in a few hours and writing longer features.”
She believes “The Ithacan” has provided her with a really diverse experience, one for which she is thankful. Additionally, she is proud to be part of such a great publication, especially after having just been honored with two Best in Show awards.
“I knew that ‘The Ithacan’ was known for the many awards it has received, but being on staff when we received the award felt different,” Aleardi said. “I actually contributed to this thing that was so great it won an award — that’s weird.”
Now, Aleardi will get to see the awards she helped contribute to earning along with all of the other awards “The Ithacan” has earned in the newspaper’s office. Having so many awards on display helps to give the paper credibility and the staff a great sense of pride.
Although another successful semester working for her student newspaper is over, Aleardi is now searching for an internship in New York City, where she will be studying next semester through Ithaca College’s program. Eventually, she hopes all of her hard work will help her achieve a position at a fashion magazine.
“I’ve always been into fashion and I think there are some big issues to be talked about in the industry,” she said.