Ippies Awards Celebrate Achievements of Community and Ethnic Press

  • By Newmark J-School Staff

Nearly 150 people gathered June 5 at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism for the 12th annual Ippies Awards celebrating the thriving community and ethnic media in the New York City area. Honorees from among the more than 300 non-mainstream media outlets in NYC took home Ippies plaques and a total of $8,250 in prize money for their journalistic excellence.

Also recognized, with a Lifetime Achievement Award, was Edward Lewis, who co-founded Essence Communications Inc., one of the country’s largest African-American multimedia organizations. The company was acquired by Time Inc.  in 2005.

Ippies MC Randall Pinkston delivers the Lifetime Achievement Award to Essence Communications Co-founder Edward Lewis (Photo by Brock Stoneham, '13)
Ippies MC Randall Pinkston delivers the Lifetime Achievement Award to Essence Communications Co-founder Edward Lewis (Photo by Brock Stoneham, ’13)

Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, filmmaker and the founder of Define America, a campaign that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration delivered the keynote address.

“The Ippies is one of my favorite events each year. The work that is celebrated here serves as a powerful reminder of the vibrancy of this media sector,” said Sarah Bartlett, Dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

Established by the Independent Press Association of New York, the Ippies are now given annually by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media (CCEM) at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. They are the only journalism awards to honor reporting in English and other languages by New York City’s ethnic and community press.

CCEM Executive Director Garry Pierre-Pierre noted that the Center plans an annual “State of the Ethnic Media” survey and will continue to offer training sessions in digital media, as well as sponsor roundtables and other events with NYC politicians and newsmakers. The Center also publishes Voices of NY, an online site that curates stories from the community and ethnic media and publishes original reporting about communities, ethnic groups, immigration, labor and other issues.

The cocktail and dinner reception at the CUNY J-School was abuzz with local journalists who write and broadcast in English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Bengali, Korean, Russian and other languages. The crowd also got to sample a number of ethnic food, from Spanish tapas to Afghan kebabs.

This year, over 150 submissions were received from more than 49 outlets for work published or broadcast in 2013. An independent panel of judges reviewed entries in 10 categories and awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes. No prize was given this year for “Best Editorial/Commentary.”

Among the Ippies winners were the Long Island Press in the “Best Story about Immigrants” category for “Muslim Americans: Behind the Veil of a Religion under Attack;”  DNAinfo.com in the “Best Investigative” category for “Millions Raised by AIDS Walk Spent on Rent, Not HIV Services,” and City Limits in the “Best Social Issues Story” competition for “Pushing Cops to Consider Kids When Arresting Parent.” These three winners earned the top prize of $1,500 each; the rest of the first-place honorees received $750 each.

Here is the complete list of Ippies winners:

Best Immigrant Story

Winner: Long Island Press: “Muslim Americans: Behind the Veil of a Religion Under Attack” by Rashid Mian

– A nuanced and beautifully crafted study of the growing Muslim community on Long Island that delves into the fears, pride and determination of a people who feel all the pressures of post-911 New York.  Living in suburbia and pursuing the dream of become U.S. citizens, Muslims react to the reports of surveillance, the anti-Muslim sentiments they hear, and the round-ups of young men with some sadness, some defiance and some amazement.

2nd Place: “An American Dream” by Ela Dutt

– A detailed analysis of the how the Dream Act, with its many political twists, is viewed among one of the fastest growing immigrant groups-Indians.

3rd Place: “English is Absent” by Sonja Sharp

– A striking example of excellent beat reporting, this series explores how publicly funded Yeshiva Schools fail to prepare students for life outside Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities by declining to teach English and Math.


Best Investigative Story

Winner: DNAinfo.com New York: “Millions Raised by AIDS Walk Spent on Rent, Not HIV Services” by Matthew Katz

-Using both public documents and internal records obtained from his sources, DNAInfo’s Mathew Katz revealed how the much-revered nonprofit group, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, had veered off course from its mission of delivering assistance to HIV-positive New Yorkers. Katz’s revelations that millions of dollars were going for high rent and costly overhead, led to a shakeup at the group that is still continuing. His stories represent a textbook example of how even those professing to do good can benefit from tough investigative digging.

2nd Place: Sing Tao Daily: “The Dark Corner in An Elite High School’ by Rong Xiaoqing

-The race to gain entry to elite Stuyvesant High School is the most intense competition in New York City’s public schools. But what’s the cost of that pressure to the mental health of students and their families? In a revealing article, reporter Rong Xiaoqing raised that uncomfortable question, finding tough answers among current and former Stuyvesant students, psychologists and teachers.  The story showed diligent research on a sensitive and rarely examined subject.

3rd Place: The South Asian Times: “H4 Visa: Languishing in a golden cage” by Jinal Shah

-What happens to women whose husbands come to the U.S. with work visas, but whose own immigration status prevents them working? Reporter Jinal Shah found proud, highly educated women whose H4 visas leaves them unable to put their own talents to work in America. At the same time they are wholly dependent on their spouses for everything from opening a bank account to buying a car, as well as vulnerable to domestic violence. Using the stories of the women themselves, and a close-up look at the law, Shah shed light on a little-recognized dilemma for many American immigrants.


Best Social Issues Story

Winner: City Limits: “Pushing Cops to Consider Kids When Arresting Parent” by Rachel Blustain

-This well-reported story shed a spotlight on the trauma suffered by children who witness the arrest of a parent, and highlighted the need for police protocols to minimize the emotional damage to kids in such cases.

2nd Place: Open City: “What Separates Welfare from Work” by E. Tammy Kim

-The writer took a critical look at welfare-to-work requirements, raising important questions about the controversial system.

3rd Place: DNAinfo New York: “Islan Nettles Coverage” by Jeff Mays

-DNA Info New York’s continuing coverage of the murder of Islan Nettles, an African American transgender woman beaten to death in Harlem, exposed a troubled police investigation while capturing the fear and sadness wrought by a senseless crime.


Best Audio Project

Winner: Feet in 2 Worlds: “Remembering Srini, a Leader in a Hidden Part of New York” by Ramaa Reddy Raghavan

-Ramaa Reddy Raghavan’s “Srini” is a warm and personal profile of the “unofficial mayor” of a little known medical community on Roosevelt Island. The passion of Sundaram Srinivasan is vividly demonstrated through archival tape and interviews. A beautiful and well produced memorial with great reporting.

2nd Place: Feet in 2 Worlds: “What’s in an Accent? Both Opportunity and Barriers for Immigrant Actresses” by Sara Loscos, John Rudolph, Jocelyn Gonzales

-“What’s in an accent” was interesting, insightful, and informative and demonstrates the struggles that many Latina actresses face in breaking through to stage and screen roles in New York City and beyond. Reporter Sara Loscos also explores the growth of new roles for Latina actresses.”


Best Multimedia Project

Winner: Feet in 2 Worlds: “‘What I Carried” – A New Collection of Immigration Stories From Fi2W and Cowbird

-This project allowed people to share something very private—the objects in their lives that they had imbued with meaning beyond sentiments and rooted them in their families, their history. Whether it was a Colombian mochila or a old-fashioned malted milkshake machine, these objects became the stabilizing root that makes you reflect on what object you’d carry with you.

2nd Place: El Diario La Prensa: “We Are Dreamers”

-This project documents the undocumented. Through beautifully photographed portraits and short personal statements we meet scores of young people dreaming of full legal status in the United States where their parents had brought them. These young people are not in the shadows, they look you right in the eye.

3rd Place: Long Island Press:  “One Year Later: Long Islanders Still Suffering from Sandy” by Rashed Mian, Christopher Twarowski Rashed Mian, Christopher Twarowski

– These journalists have refreshed our short memories. A year after Sandy, thousands of Long Island residents are still suffering, paying mortgages on homes that were destroyed or wondering where they’ll get their next hot meal. In prose and video, we meet the people who are in need of help and those who have not forgotten to help.


Best Online Design

Winner: Tablet Magazine: Alana Newhouse, Editor-in-Chief

-The winning site, Tablet Mag, hooked the judges immediately with an engaging design and vibrant visual content. The use of typography is effective and legible, highlighted by smart use of color, creative illustrations and icons. The hierarchy of information in the navigation is clear and thoughtful. Story pages are also strong, content is easy to share and the site looks great on mobile screens.

2nd Place: Island Voice: Shereese Mullings

-Island Voice displayed good visuals, well-tailored branding on the banner, and good visual hierarchy. It also scored well with judges for legibility and mobile-friendliness.

3rd Place: Long Island Press: Michael Conforti

-Long Island Press made creative use of typography and photos, and excelled with very legible text.


Best Photo

Winner: World Journal / Chenghui Hsu / Protest against ABC

-This high-energy image illustrates an issue important to the community through strong compelling composition and  with flare.

2nd Place: Diario de Mexico / Gery Vereau / Leticia Ponce, who suffers from terminal cancer, fulfilled her wish of getting married.

-This images portrays an intimate moment in very compelling story within the community covered.

3rd Place: DNAinfo New York / Ben Fractenberg / See How Bikes are Made in New York’s Oldest Cycle Factory

– This well-composed and beautifully lit portrait was among the strongest stylistically of the submissions. The image is made even stronger in the context of the entire slideshow.


Best Print Design

Winner: Allewaa Alarabi (Sept. 13, 2013) / Atef El Beialy

-The Sept. 13, 2013 edition of the Allewaa Alarabi newspaper is a perfect example of the best publication design. The paper packs a graphic punch, with its bright and bold combination of color, images, design, and typography. The paper is a visual treat, especially the smart and creative use of images. The page layouts are given rich and varied textures, so that each story and page is a visual surprise. The three artists’ portfolios highlighted in this issue are excellent. The work is top-notch.

2nd Place: Desi Talk (June 14, 2013) / Parikh Worldwide Media LLC

-Desi Talk is a clean, tightly-formatted tabloid newspaper. The cover is packed with stories, headlines, photos, and teasers (as well as ads), but it’s all handled exceptionally well with clean graphics and a smart use of color. Desi Talk’s design is reminiscent of the best tabloid dailies, with a solid grid and consistent typography.

3rd Place: Nueva Luz / En Foco, Inc. / Volume 18:1

-Nueva Luz’s design first and foremost is structured to showcase the art, as it should be. The format serves the presentation of photography well. The trim size and use of white space with a consistently defined grid structure all support showcasing the art, while organizing the accompanying text in a clear, easily readable column structure.


Best Video

Winner: SinoVision / Melody Cao, Yiyi Wang, Mumi Zhao, Zhaochen Dai, Tian Tian, Yuefeng Zhou, Fan Bu / Behind the Protests

– A well-reported and illuminating local angle on a story that made national headlines.

2nd Place: SinoVision / Zhaochen Dai, Han Cui, Juan Guo, Tian Tian, Yuefeng Zhou, Fan Bu / Carnage in Brooklyn’s Chinatown

-Compelling story-behind-the story report that sheds light on a tragic incident and the daily hardships Chinese immigrants face.

3rd Place: SinoVision / Lingjing Bian, Dizhi Ge, Tian Tian, Yuefeng Zhou / Investigating Postpartum Centers in Flushing

-In-depth investigative piece that explains a complex topic and how a little-known Medicaid loophole is exploited.