The Outlook Wins Fifth National Award

The Outlook, Monmouth University’s student-run newspaper, was named “University Newspaper of the Year 2019-20,” by the American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) earlier this month.

The ASPA holds an annual national competition for university newspapers and other publications. Papers are judged on everything from news coverage to layout and design. This is the fifth national championship The Outlook has won since their establishment in 1933.

“I was ecstatic when I heard that The Outlook received such a prestigious honor,” Melissa Badamo, Editor-in-Chief (EIC) and Features Editor, said. “This award was the result of teamwork, devotion, and hard work across the entire Outlook staff.”

“Each year, our editors emphasize coverage of campus news and events, exceptional writing and page design, and always striving to be fair and truthful,” she continued.

John Morano, a Professor of Journalism, has been the faculty advisor to The Outlook for over 30 years, and from his experience, the paper could’ve won 15 times. “The paper is consistent in their coverage of the campus and its news… There is really one main focus, bring quality news and information to the readership of Monmouth University,” he said.

“In the pursuit of that, be fair and tell the truth. Whether the paper has managed to that or not, is for the reader to decide, but certainly, judged by independent journalists against other institutions, The Outlook has distinguished itself,” Morano added.

Danielle Schipani, a graduate assistant to The Outlook, believes the “dedication of undergraduate students who work tirelessly every single week to ensure a high-quality paper hits the stands on Wednesday morning,” makes the paper so successful.

Morano agreed, “It still takes deep dedication from a group of students willing to perform all kinds of tasks for little to no credit, essentially because they believe the pursuit of useful information is a valuable endeavor.”

Caroline Mattise, former Editor-in-Chief from 2019-20, said, “It is an honor to be recognized by the ASPA for our hard work and dedication to accurate and relevant reporting.”

She continued, “I am grateful to have been a part of The Outlook team for the past four years. This award solidifies the role that student journalists play in upholding the Fourth Estate in our society and within our institutions.”

Schipani explained that she recognizes how difficult balancing school, work, and an editorial position at the paper can be; she has been with The Outlook since her sophomore year, having held positions as the News Editor in 2015-16 and the EIC in 2016-17.

“I admire all the editors for their hard work… This award shows how awesome our editors and writers really are. I am always impressed by their passion and dedication and find it truly inspiring,” Schipani said.

Schipani added, “[Winning this award] speaks to the wonderful communication education that Monmouth provides, and of course highlights the dedication and efforts of the students,” she said. “We are also so lucky to have such an incredible supervisor, Professor Morano. I’ve learned everything I know about journalism from him, and I can’t thank him enough for all the late-night editorial conversations and for his dedication to our learning experience.”

Aaron Furgason, Chair of the Communication Department and Associate Professor, explained that since this is the Fifth National Championship for The Outlook, it suggests “a high level of student leadership as well as faculty oversight by advisor, Professor John Morano.”

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“I am in awe of the level of excellence and passion for journalism that the staff of The Outlook puts into every issue during the academic year,” Furgason said.

The Outlook staff puts together a 16-page weekly publicaiton, devoting Monday and Tuesday evenings to layout and editing and spend the rest of the week assembling stories.

Matthew Cutillo, the Managing, News and Lifestyles Editor, transfered to Monmouth to pursue his degree in Journalism more seriously and joined the Outlook. “The staff was very welcoming on all levels, and I appreciated the amount of dedication to their craft.

He continued, “It was motivating to be surrounded by people as interested in Journalism as myself. I could sense myself becoming better amongst my new peers.”

“Excellence in journalism requires a high level of consistency in the product each week and aggressive but fair reporting, which are all skills that every student involved with The Outlook possess,” Furgason said.

In the aftermath of receiving this award, Morano does not believe the paper’s standards will need to change. “To tell you the truth, I don’t think being recognized in this way puts any more pressure on the paper. I’m sure the editors will attest to this,” he said.

“I expect us to be champions every year, every week, in fact. We set the bar high. Sometimes we clear it, sometimes we don’t, but we’re always trying to get there, and we will continue to approach it that way,” Morano concluded.

Badamo agreed, “I wouldn’t say that I feel pressure to improve from last year, because I am confident that our staff will continue to apply that same diligence The Outlook has been known for year after year.”

She elaborated that there is always potential for growth at the newspaper and is that she is committed to leading our team of writers and editors to another year of success.

PHOTOS COURTESY of Monmouth University