Journ grad writer of the year
NEW PALTZ -- Riverdale Press reporter Marie Villani, a 2001 State University of New York at New Paltz journalism graduate, has been named Writer of the Year by The New York Press Association at its annual conference of community newspapers held recently in Albany.
In giving her the association's highest individual award, the judges praised her "tight writing" and "polished journalistic style." She told "compelling stories," they said, that "really pull readers in" with their opening paragraphs and hold their interest "'til the end."
"The award is no surprise," commented New Paltz journalism professor Robert Miraldi, who taught Villani when she was a student. "She was always interested in issues and has the spunky attitude that translates into a good reporter."
Villani connected with The Press when its Pulitzer Prize-winning editor, Bernard Stein, visited the campus to speak with students. Stein later became the college's second James H. Ottaway Professor of journalism was an intern there during Villani's senior year. She joined the staff after graduating.
The Riverdale Press was founded by Bernard Stein's father, David, in 1950. It has grown from a tiny tabloid serving a community of 3,000 families to a 13,000-circulation broadsheet covering the Northwest Bronx neighborhoods of Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Kingsbridge Heights, Van Cortland Village and Marble Hill. It is often called the best community newspaper in the nation.
The 10 articles The Press submitted for the Writer of the Year award displayed Villani's range as writer and reporter. The portfolio included stories about the travails of local third-graders being tutored for the state's English and math exams; a controversial student-run Web site that rates teachers, as well as a magazine-length piece about the recent trend toward smaller public high schools and a poignant profile of a former high school football star killed in a car accident.
Villani is the seventh Riverdale Press reporter to be named Writer of the Year since the award was inaugurated in 1984.