On 29 May 2017, the Toronto Star recognized the accomplishments of high school journalists at the High School Journalism Awards (HSJA’s). In addition to the title of Best Electronic Newspaper, The Reckoner received twelve other awards in various categories.
Formerly known as the Toronto Star High School Newspaper Awards, this year’s event was rebranded as the High School Journalism Awards, recognizing modern newspapers which publish through both electronic and print mediums.
Submissions for the HSJA’s were due on 26 April, with eligible content having to have been published either online or in print during the last year. There were twenty-one different categories spanning the various aspects of journalism including as reporting, photography, and content presentation.
The Star invited the winners to a celebratory luncheon at the Toronto Reference Library. The event was formerly hosted at the Toronto Star Vaughan Press Centre, which is now closed. Along with their sponsor Henry’s, the Star organized a photo booth and virtual reality station for the attendees.
After lunch, Jayme Poisson and Maria Vallis opened the awards ceremony. Ms. Poisson is an investigative writer with the Toronto Star, renowned for her work on the Rob Ford crack scandal and coverage of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Poisson, a returning HSJA speaker, spoke about her journalism career and interviewing strategies, saying, “It is my duty to give [a] voice to those who don’t have the power to speak out for themselves.” She was followed by Maria Vallis, Senior Editor of the Toronto Star, who presented the awards.
The Leaside Chronicle was recognized with the title of Best Newspaper (Over 15 Staff). The Toronto Star highlighted its article on the struggles of an Indian immigrant for its strong narrative. R.H. King Academy’s Kingsley Voice won the title of Best Newspaper (15 Staff and Under).
The Reckoner’s Outreach Manager, Joan-Shiao Chen, said she enjoyed herself but was disappointed there was a lot of time spent idle. “I think it was really cool, especially the virtual reality station and the food,” she said, “but I was hoping there would be more opportunities to take photos of the award recipients with the presenter.”
Vice-Principal Ms. O’Flynn-Wheeler accompanied the newspaper’s staff to the awards and was elated with The Reckoner’s performance, saying, “This is my first time here and I am so proud to see so many awards.”
Editor-in-Chief Parnika Godkhindi and her successor, Varun Venkataramanan, were interviewed by Hina Alam, a Toronto Star reporter. They were asked about their thoughts on The Reckoner’s annual success as well as where they hoped to take the paper in the future. Their interview was included in the Star’s feature on the award ceremony.
Reflecting on The Reckoner’s performance this year, Parnika said, “Our dedicated staff are never afraid to take risks. That is why The Reckoner is Ontario’s first student newspaper to have its own mobile application and highly interactive website.” She also said that Marc Garneau CI’s diverse student body inspires many articles, adding to the depth of the paper. In the future, Parnika said she would like to see more analytical pieces following in the style of the U.S. Presidential Election Breakdown.
The Reckoner would like to congratulate the following staff members for their individual achievements:
Angela Pang and Grace Xiong: First Place, Editorial Cartoon
Anthony Chang: Runner-up, Layout and Design, Page
Dora Su: Runner-up, Electronic Newspaper, Layout and Design, Special Feature Page
Eric Wang: First Place, Humour
Jenna Wong: First Place, News Photography
Jenna Wong: First Place, Sports Photography
Julien Lin and Varun Venkataramanan: First Place, Sports Writing, Feature
Lauren Chang: Runner-up, Critical Writing
Rafiq Habib: First Place, Opinion Writing
Rafiq Habib: Runner-up, Editorial Writing
Ruknoon Dinder: Runner-up, Sports Writing, Reporting
Varun Venkataramanan: First Place, Electronic Newspaper, Layout and Design, Special Feature Page