Four Spectrum editors won two Region 1 Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Mark of Excellence awards last weekend. The results were announced at the SPJ’s annual Region 1 award ceremony, held this year in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Managing editor Grant Ashley, senior multimedia editor Moaz Elazzazi, investigative reporter Kyle Nguyen and former senior news/features editor Kayla Estrada won the “Breaking News Reporting” award for their coverage of the May 14, 2022 Tops shooting on the Buffalo East Side.
Nguyen separately won the “In-Depth Reporting” award for his four-part series on the delayed construction of student housing complex Air Buffalo.
“I definitely tried to manage my expectations,” Ngyuen said regarding his two awards. “To see our Tops coverage win the award means a lot to me. Kayla, Grant and Moaz are all models of courage and hard work ethic, especially on a night of adversity like that one.”
Estrada says she hopes the award will help bring “more awareness and resources” to the East Side community.
The Spectrum competes against schools in the SPJ Mark of Excellence’s Region 1, which includes universities such as Syracuse, Harvard and Columbia.
“We might not have as many resources as the papers at Columbia or Syracuse but we have passion and grit,” Elazzazi said. “The Spectrum has a long history of producing great journalism and it’s an honor to be a part of that legacy.”
Matt Parrino, the adjunct instructor for The Spectrum’s writing workshop, said the four editors set an example for their colleagues on how to pursue the truth, cover a tragedy and inform their audience through their reporting.
“I’m so proud of all of them and the countless ways everybody on staff has contributed to strengthening our environment,” Parrino said. “Grant, Kyle, Kayla and Moaz not only produced award-winning journalism that results in a few plaques we get to hang on the wall, but they also have added to a blueprint that Spectrum editors have been writing for decades.”
The editors’ stories now move on to the SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards’ national level, where they will compete against the winners of the 11 other regions. National winners will be announced in the late spring, according to the SPJ’s website.
Victoria Hill is the senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org