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More than 100 guests gathered June 11 at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism for the 13th Annual Ippies Awards, which honor excellence in journalism from community and ethnic media outlets across the city.

(Photo by Skyler Reid)

(Photo by Skyler Reid)

Originally awarded by the Independent Press Association of New York, the Ippies are now given annually by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media (CCEM) at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. The Ippies are the only awards given to community and ethnic media outlets in New York City to recognize reporting in English and other languages across the mediums of print, video, photography and both print and online design.

The evening’s keynote speaker, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, said that the community and ethnic media have an ally in her and that the sector “has been a vital partner in helping us spread the word about IDNYC” referring to the city’s municipal ID program that among other things, has made it possible for undocumented immigrants who often must live under the radar to receive city services.

Ippies 2015 Master of Ceremonies Randall Pinkston meets with members of the community and ethnic press before the awards ceremony on June 11 at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.  (Photo by Skyler Reid)

Ippies 2015 Master of Ceremonies Randall Pinkston, of Al Jazeera America, meets with members of the community and ethnic press before the awards ceremony on June 11 at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. (Photo by Skyler Reid)

Mark-Viverito said she has made it a priority to be available to community and ethnic media, and she hopes to secure the relationship in a way that will allow it to be maintained by future speakers.

Sarah Bartlett, dean of the CUNY J-School, introduced the speaker and earlier in the evening welcomed the crowd, citing the vital and important role community and ethnic media outlets play in the city.

Attendees were greeted in the lobby of the CUNY J-School building on West 40th Street by kora player Yacouba Diabate playing West African melodies, while guitarist and vocalist Irving Louis Lattin performed during the dessert reception following the awards. Guests enjoyed wine and beer with Mexican, Thai, Kosher and Turkish cuisines.

Jiha Ham from The Korea Times, winner of the first Voices of NY award at the 2015 Ippies. (Photo by Skyler Reid)

Jiha Ham from The Korea Times, winner of the first Voices of NY award at the 2015 Ippies (Photo by Skyler Reid)

Karen Pennar, CCEM’s co-director and editor of the Center’s web publication, Voices of NY, shared highlights of the center’s work over the last year including the organization of training sessions for members to gain digital and other reporting skills, plans for training in business and financial coverage, the ongoing Newsmaker series and efforts to help members increase ad revenue.

Bartlett and Pennar both acknowledged CCEM’s co-director Jehangir Khattak, who has been an integral part of the center and its predecessor organization for more than a decade, but was unable to help present the awards because of a sudden death in his family.

Pennar also thanked Garry Pierre-Pierre, CCEM’s former executive director, for his leadership, advice and for helping the center find a home at the CUNY J-School four years ago.

Veteran journalist Randall Pinkston of Al Jazeera America emceed the event, while he and Tom Robbins, the CUNY-J school’s investigative journalist in residence and lead judge in the Ippies investigative category, announced the evening’s awards.

David Cruz from Norwood News, winner of the best small circulation publication, a new Ippies category introduced this year. (Photo by Skyler Reid)

David Cruz from Norwood News, winner of the best small circulation publication, a new Ippies category introduced this year (Photo by Skyler Reid)

Pennar announced the first-ever Voices of NY Award, that recognizes a single member of the community and ethnic press for overall outstanding work. The award went to Korea Times reporter Jiha Ham, who was honored for his dedicated and thoughtful reporting on social issues affecting Koreans in America. In 2014 Ham broke the story on Korean elders being ejected from a McDonald’s at the request of the manager.

Among this year’s first place winners were: The Jewish Daily Forward in the Best Investigative/In-Depth Story category for “Hasidic Enclave Keeps Its Secrets Amid Elusive Rabbi’s Tight Control“; SinoVision in the Best Story About an Immigrant Community category for their multimedia piece, “In Brooklyn’s Chinatown, Satellite Babies Grow into Runaway Teens”  – which also won for  Best Multimedia Package; Long Island Press for Best Social Issues Story with their piece, “How Long Island is Losing its War on Heroin,” and Norwood News, the winner of a new category, Best Small Circulation Publication. View the complete list of winners here.

This article by Jennifer Lehman was originally posted on Voices of NY.