Amanda Panacci, now pursuing a journalism master’s degree at Toronto’s Ryerson University, won the 2015 Student Writing Award for the Specialized Business Press. The award is presented by the ASBPE Foundation and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC.) It was presented at the ASBPE National Conference on July 24 at the Kimmel Center at New York University.
Her winning article, titled “Silenced Spring,” appeared in the Ryerson Review of Journalism. It discussed the rise of crowd-funding to help environmental reporters pursue stories that fewer and fewer traditional mainstream publication are willing to pay to support. The article looks at ethical and other questions related to crowd-funding in journalism, and crowd-funding problems that might arise in the future.
The ASBPE Foundation joined with AEJMC in 2012 to honor the best business-to-business writing in AEJMC’s broad student competition. Last year’s winner was Nicole Thill of the University of Arizona, who wrote for a coffee-industry market about the effect of coffee fungus on small communities in Costa Rica.
Panacci, Toronto born and raised, grew up reading about Narnia and other wonderlands, and escaping into the colorful worlds of National Geographic. She followed her English and communication studies at Wilfrid Laurier University by volunteering in Quito, Ecuador, in the summer of 2012.
She then started a creative writing blog, sharing the stories of residents she met while on her travels. Her passion became long-form journalism, and she pursued it during an internship at Toronto Life magazine, and then into her master’s work at Ryerson. The school was her first choice in part because it is home to the highly regarded Ryerson Review of Journalism. “Silenced Spring,” she says, was pitched to target mainstream media’s narrowing focus on environmental stories. “It quickly transitioned to the alternative lengths that journalists must go to sustain their livelihood,” according to Panacci.
Through researching and writing the story, she adds, she learned that the future of journalism requires three elements: “passion, determination and a dash of crazy.” Though she is aware that her future in journalism is unpredictable, she is determined “to one day sit in that leather-backed chair, designed for none other than the editor-in-chief.” It’s a position, Panacci says she’s dreamed of for the past decade. But “if the bubble bursts along the way,” she says, she’s “willing to become an entrepreneur at a moment’s notice.”