Student publication, LMC Experience, honored with 25 journalism awards

For Immediate Release: Oct. 18, 2023
Contact: Journalism Adviser Cindy McGrath, or Juliet V. Casey,, (925) 473-7322

Pittsburg, Calif. – The Los Medanos College student publication, LMC Experience, won 25 awards in the 2023 Northern Regional Publication and On-the-Spot contests of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges, announced at the annual Northern Regional Journalism Conference held Oct. 14 at San Francisco State University.  

The weekly student publication, led by former editors in chief Michael Benedian and Juan Cebreiros, won General Excellence in the Publication Contest for its print edition published during the 2022-23 academic year. Additionally, 11 current and former staff members were honored with awards in a variety of writing, photography, design and new media categories in publication and on-the-spot contests.  

Benedian, Cebreiros and LMC Experience staff were honored with a meritorious award in the Enterprise News Story/Series category for coverage of an audio recording leaked on social media that contained what was described as insensitive remarks by a college manager about Black people. 

Benedian won second place in the Photo Story-Essay category for a selection of photos on art professor Eric Sanchez’s design class mural project for the Rivertown Garden. And Cebreiros won fourth place for the Editorial, “AI diminishes integrity in education.” 

Former LMC Experience Photo Editor Katherine Mustar took home five photography awards, including three first-place honors. She took the top award in Feature Photo for a group shot of students gathered on a cabin porch at the 2022 Honors retreat; Sports Feature Photo for a photo of a baseball player falling to his knees after a win; and Photo Story-Essay for a series of images on preparing for a baseball game. She won third place in News Photo for coverage of Pi Day events and fourth place in Online Photo Story/Essay for the baseball game again the Eagles in which the Mustangs clinched first place in the Bay Valley Conference. 

The LMC Experience launched an interview-based podcast series last spring, Exposition. Podcasters Drew Booth and Micah Simms won fourth place in Podcast/Audio News for a feature interview with Philosophy Professor Edward Haven. Simms also won third place in Critical Review for his opinion article on the new sound of Lil Yachty. 

Other students winning publication awards include: 

  • Editor in Chief Aliyah Ramirez: second place in Inside Page Layout for a page design on the Student Art Show; third place in Feature Photo for an image of a student performing in spring 2023 Talent Show; and honorable mention in Opinion Story for the column “Finding a voice like mine.” 
  • Managing Editor Mohammad Najimi: first place in Photo Illustration and third place in Inside Page Design for a graphic and a page on LMC baseball player’s MLB heroes. 
  • Graphic artist Alexis Ramirez: second and fourth place for two different Editorial Cartoon entries focusing on guns and gun violence; and fourth place in Illustration for a drawing to accompany a story on Courageous Conversations. 
  • Former reporter and podcaster Tatihn Mellieon: second place in Column Writing for a pair of articles on social and political issues: “Trans people are not the problem” and “Why American should care about the war in Ukraine.” 
  • Former reporter Noah Cannon: two honorable mention awards, one in Critical Review for a critique of the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” and another in Column Writing for two articles on the entertainment industry — “The current state of cinema needs fixing” and “Another ‘Toy Story’ is too much of a good thing.” 

Students attending the event had the opportunity to compete in conference contests designed to give them a tight deadline experience in producing journalistic content. Najimi won second place in the Copyediting contest, Cebreiros won fourth place in Newswriting, and first-semester journalism student Jordan Suisala won honorable mention in Opinion Writing. Both the News Writing and Opinion Writing contest were based on the conference keynote address by Eytan Wallace, California Capitol Bureau Reporter for Nexstar. 

LMC Experience adviser Cindy McGrath praised the work of LMC student journalists who won awards at the conference this year and emphasized that the news staff continues to pursue and achieve excellence as they work to increase publication to pre-pandemic levels. Although the Experience published only online when the college was closed, it resumed printing in spring 2022, and the staff published 18 print issues during the 2022-23 academic year, nearly back to full strength. 

“The small but growing staff has worked tirelessly to inform and entertain the college community with important and interesting news as the campus has started to bustle once again. The student reporters and editors are passionate about journalism, and I am proud of the work they do to follow their dreams of working in a free-press field that supports democracy in America,” said McGrath. 

About Los Medanos College (LMC): LMC is one of three colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District, serving the East Contra Costa County community. Established in 1974, LMC has earned federal designations as a Minority-Serving and Hispanic-Serving institution. It offers award-winning transfer and career-technical programs, support services, and diverse academic opportunities in an inclusive learning environment. With exceptional educators, innovative curriculum, growing degree and certificate offerings, and state-of-the-art facilities, the college prepares students to succeed in their educational pursuits, in the workforce, and beyond. LMC’s Pittsburg Campus is located on 120 acres bordering Antioch, with an additional education center in Brentwood.