Members of Student Media have become finalists in two categories of the 24th annual Sunshine State Awards.
The 2018 awards is hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists Florida Pro Chapter to recognize journalists for their quality reporting in 2017 and is open to all professional journalists in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The awards also have a Spanish-language division and a division for students at Florida colleges and universities.
Nicole Malanga is a finalist in the “Best News Photo” category for her “No One Is Illegal” photo. The photo was taken in November at the GC lawns during a student organized walk-out protest for a “clean” DACA bill when Malanga was a senior and Student Media’s multimedia director at the time.
“When I saw I was a finalist, I was surprised and very honored,” said Malanga. “I am proud to showcase a photo capturing the activism of the FIU community to journalism professionals.”
The protest was “emotionally charged,” filled with students who had direct, personal connections to the topic and strangers who had just come to support them, according to Malanga.
“As they marched and chanted, the usual afternoon crowds seemed to part for them. I wanted to capture the emotion of the people fighting for a cause that was so important for them,” Malanga said.
Harold Lopez and Nazareth Izada are finalists in the “Best Coverage of LGBT Issues” category for their “Out + Proud” video series. At the time, Izada was a senior and RPM director at The Roar, FIU’s student-run radio station, and Lopez was entertainment director for PantherNOW. Izada has since graduated and Lopez is now general manager of The Roar.
Like Malanga, Izada and Lopez are grateful for the recognition.
“Putting my story out into the world means that the hurt I faced as a young gay girl wasn’t in vain and being a finalist makes this even more so,” Izada said. “Self-love has never been easy for me, so I’m honored that my piece may help others on their journey.”
The series began in June 2017 as a way to honor Pride Month and raise awareness about the University’s LGBTQ+ community, according to Lopez.
“I wanted members of the LGBTQ+ to share their story, hoping it would inspire students,” Lopez said. “I didn’t have resources growing up and I was hoping this could be a gateway for others.”
The winners will be announced at the annual Sunshine State Awards ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 4, at the University of Miami’s Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables.