Ippies Cancellation Raises Concerns Of Local Media’s Future

Ippies Awards 2019 Cancellation

Earlier today a very saddening email hit my inbox, that the annual Ippies Awards hosted every year since 2002 by the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY’s (City University of New York) Center for Community and Ethnic Media (CCEM) will not be happening.

According to its mission statement, CCEM elevates the stature of these newsrooms, helps journalists to develop professionally and aims to strengthen civic engagement and cross-cultural understanding in New York City by building capacity in this media sector.

According to CCEM’s website, “The Center does this work in New York, but we are a model for institutions seeking to support the rich diversity of voices and experiences in communities across the U.S. At a time when people of color and immigrants are not only marginalized but often abused, CCEM plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the output of community-based media outlets becomes part of the larger national discourse.”

The Ippies awards honor and highlight the achievements of ethnic and local media throughout New York City, a time-honored tradition that many outlets including Kings County Politics (KCP) look forward to.

As a senior editor of a local outlet, I always find pride in knowing that local journalism is still alive and that we are the first line of reporting when it comes to policy and legislation affecting the daily lives of New Yorkers.

The Ippies over the two years have held a special place in my heart as they tend to fall either on my actual birthday or near it, which makes my day that much more rewarding. Nothing like feeling great and getting a plaque to match it.  

Last year, KCP won 3rd place for small circulation the first overall and second award we have won as an editorial staff since KCP was founded in September 2014.

Also of note, last year’s award ceremony was hosted by none other than NY1 Political icon Erroll Louis who cut his journalistic teeth at a small publication, Our Time Press (OTP) in Bedford-Stuyvesant. OTP is Brooklyn’s most prominent black-owned newspaper and has won both Ippie and other awards.

The awards also are of particular importance for us reporters who are on the ground, walking the”beat” on a daily basis and grinding to really find those local stories that elevate city and state government politics. Stories that larger more-monied media outlets often pick up on after they are published in these smaller publications. Stories like KCP’s ongoing investigative series on the city’s Third Party Transfer Program.

Being recognized against your peers is a special moment for any journalist, especially when you are one of the few outlets left in your respective market.

In the past couple of years, local and hyper-local journalism has taken a serious hit with the shuttering of DNA Info in Nov 2017, the slashing of 50% of the New York Daily News editorial staff in July 2018 and the demise of The Village Voice in August of the same year.

This update has left me to think that local outlets need more support and not just from an institutional level but from our fellow larger outlets. Local politics always starts at the neighborhood level and the only way to ensure free press is keeping us in the game.

The Ippies were one of the few awards that recognized our need and their cancellation just adds another nail to the coffin of the local news media.