By: Rory MacDonald-Gauthier

From left, Joe Banks, journalism student Rachel Aiello, Second Vice-President Gordon Cameron, advertising student Brandon March and journalism student Dali Carmichael. the award was presented at the OCNA convention March 22.

For the second year in a row, Algonquin’s newspaper the Algonquin Times won the Ontario Community Newspaper Organization’s General Excellence award. Algonquin beat out second place Niagara College and third place Ryerson University, taking the title of Best College Newspaper in Ontario.

President of Algonquin College Kent MacDonald believes that by earning this award, Algonquin’s journalism program is now being seen as a program that not only provides students with hands on skills, but a program that produces high quality content.

“The newspaper won the top award. It is fundamentally a statement to the quality of our faculty and staff. I’m proud of them and I’m pleased that this is another recognition of how professional our faculty are,” said MacDonald.

But the praise for the Times goes beyond the walls of the college. Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson sent his congratulations to the Times staff after gaining wind of their achievements.

“It’s a great paper that I enjoy reading every two weeks. Both the layout and the writing are excellent and I want to urge everyone at the paper to keep up the great work,” stated Watson.

While the current Times staff were grateful and appreciative for the kind words sent from many, the real work contributing to this award was done by last years’ staff. The former students are currently interning at various news outlets across Canada, as part of a six-week work placement before they graduate.

Aaron Pope, former editor for the Times and now a general reporter at the Ottawa Citizen reflected on his time with the paper and shed light on what he felt was most important about being a journalist.

“There are a million little things you have to learn and remember. You have to take those little details and be able to put them together to tell an interesting story,” said Pope. “Everyone has a story to tell, and it’s your responsibility as a journalist to tell it, and tell it well.”

Dan Cress, a former social issues editor for the Times is currently interning at CBC’s Toronto location. Cress felt rewarded knowing that the paper is getting the recognition that it deserves, after spending countless nights working on it. While discussing this he reminisced on what the journalism program taught him.

“Never stop putting yourself out there. Take any opportunity you can to practice the skills that are being taught. Be flexible and always ready to learn on the go. The more you learn is what’s going to separate you from the crowd,” said Cress.

Meg O’Connell, former office manager for the Times and now intern at United Way, stressed how crucial it was that the staff work as a team and applauds her former co-workers for their rigorous work ethic.

“We really came together as a group to produce the best work that we could, which I think was expressed consistently throughout our issues,” said O’Connell. “We had an amazing editor in Aaron and everyone on staff. Everyone stepped up.”

With the Times winning OCNA’s Best College Newspaper in Ontario award for the past two years, a bar has been set for the current batch of journalism students. Joe Banks, coordinator of the journalism program, was on sabbatical leave during last year’s publication.

“I’m proud of the students from last year, and I’m proud of the faculty,” said Banks. “I’m anticipating even greater success next year.”