Spectrum senior sports editor Anthony DeCicco took home first prize for sports column writing at the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards Saturday.
The SPJ organizes a yearly awards show to recognize outstanding student journalism across the country. This year’s ceremony was hosted over Zoom and attended by around 20 journalists, students and advisors; entrants in several categories organized by journalistic genre and mediums such as print, radio and television were awarded accolades.
The Spectrum submitted three of DeCicco’s columns to the contest, including ‘Mid-major prodigy: Why Jaret Patterson should win the Heisman trophy’ and ‘Is Playing During a Pandemic Worth It?.
Although DeCicco has always demonstrated a deep knowledge of, and passion for, sports, he credits his successful career as a student sports journalist to the guiding hands of his Spectrum faculty advisor and fellow editors.
“It’s nice to know your hard work pays off. I’d like to thank all The Spectrum staff members, in particular, editor in chief Reilly Mullen, managing editor Justin Weiss and faculty advisor Jody Biehl,” DeCicco said. “Without the assistance and support of The Spectrum staff, none of this would be possible.”
DeCicco joined The Spectrum's sports desk as a contributor during the fall semester of his freshman year. He became an assistant sports editor the following spring and assumed the role of senior sports editor this fall.
“I kind of stumbled upon it [The Spectrum] midway through the fall semester, and I remember jumping right into writing articles,” DeCicco said. “I have been on the sports desk the whole time.”
Editor in chief Reilly Mullen says DeCicco demonstrates how much of an impact student journalism has on the campus community.
“I’m very proud of Anthony and happy he’s receiving the recognition he deserves,” Mullen said. “I think The Spectrum being recognized nationally is important to continuing our service as the only student-run news source at UB, and highlights how important student journalism is to campus communities, even at schools without journalism programs.”
Managing editor Justin Weiss called DeCicco a “model journalist” with a demonstrated history of producing quality content.
“I had the pleasure of being Anthony’s immediate editor when he was a contributor on the sports desk,” Weiss said. “He has always amazed me with his passion for journalism, strong work ethic and good-natured amiability. I can’t wait to continue to watch him grow.”
The Spectrum has a long and distinguished history of producing nationally-recognized student journalism.
In 2019, former managing editor Jacklyn Walters and former senior news editor Tanveen Vohra won the College Media Association’s (CMA) Pinnacle award for best breaking news story, for their coverage of UB’s fiscal transition from Sub Board I to the Faculty Student Association.
The Spectrum won five national awards during the 2014-15 school year, including a first-place Pinnacle award in the “best special section” category for its sex issue. That same year, The Spectrum’s former editor in chief, Sarah DiNatale, won second place for reporter of the year at the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker awards. The Spectrum also placed second in the investigative news and general news categories of the CMA’s Pinnacle awards as well as third place in the investigative sports category.
“I'm happy my sports column writing has been recognized because I take great pride in the columns I write,” DeCicco said. “I hope this nomination is the first of many for not only myself, but other members of our staff.”
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