2013 YJI Contest Winners

Joanie Lyons

Joanie Lyons, 2013 Student Journalist of the Year

WEST HARTFORD, Conn., U.S.A. – (May 21, 2013) The heartbreaking story of a 12-year-old Pakistani girl who spent much of her life as a kitchen maid took the top newswriting award in Youth Journalism International’s 2013 Excellence in Journalism contest.
Written by Arooj Khalid, a 15-year-old girl in Lahore, Pakistan, the child labor piece captured the Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News in this year’s contest, which recognized the best in youth journalism worldwide.
Capturing top honors as the Connecticut-based nonprofit’s Student Journalist of the Year is Joanie Lyons, 18, a Highlands Ranch, Colo. senior who plans to attend Louisiana State University in the fall.
Presented with a crystal trophy during her journalism class at Mountain Vista High School, Lyons said, “This is so cool.”
YJI’s annual contest for teen journalists honored 87 talented students from 20 countries and 19 U.S. states. They collected awards for everything from news to reviews, with photographers, cartoonists, columnists and others securing honors for an astonishing range of material published last year.
Frank Johnson, one of the more than 20 contest judges, praised the quality of work.
“It was clear that journalism has a future in the world,” said Johnson. “There were interesting topics and strong writing skills exhibited in every article I read.”
Khalid said the awards help young writers like her make a difference.
“Encouragements like these make me believe that I can,” she said.
The one adult winner was Kim Vinh, a teacher at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, Calif., named as the 2013 Journalism Educator of the Year.
Tasman Anderson of Brisbane, Australia, won the other major award, the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary. Anderson’s piece, about cutting and self-harm, was based in part on personal experience.
Judges in this year’s contest, many of them professionals in the field, helped narrow down hundreds of solid entries in dozens of categories. The annual contest, now in its fourth year, is open to any young journalist in the world.
The four people chosen in the major categories receive crystal trophies. Eighty seven students on five continents – winners in the many other categories – will receive custom-made certificates in recognition of their work.
Student Journalist of the Year
Lyons’ teacher, Mark Newton, said Lyons has always shown a willingness to try new things, to push the boundaries. He said she has “a superb enthusiasm and capacity for independent thought.”
Lyons has a range of journalistic skills, from reporting to layout, and a keen news sense to tie them all together.
“In an era of rapid change in journalism, Joanie Lyons has what it takes to strike off in new directions, to bring her enthusiasm to the challenge of finding a way to keep delivering the news with talent and skill,” said Steve Collins, president of YJI’s board.
Lyons said people have “amazing stories” that she likes to tell. As an editor, she also loves designing pages for publication.
As the co-editor of both the school paper, VISTAj and its yearbook, which have newly combined staffs, Lyons said she enjoys helping and guiding classmates.
Lyons, who graduated this month, said she plans to study journalism and biology at LSU.
In addition to Lyons, two talented young journalists were named as finalists in the category, no small honor.
They were Justina Liu of Guilderland High School in Guilderland Center, N.Y. and Zachary Babb of Cypress Falls High School in Houston, Texas. Both are outstanding young journalists.
Mountain Vista High School is in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Previous winners have hailed from Idaho, Pennsylvania and India.
Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary
A student at the University of Queensland, Anderson said she was initially unsure whether to tackle the subject of self-harm. She said it surprised her editor and shocked her parents – who knew nothing of her seven-year struggle with cutting until just before her essays were published – but called it an issue “that really needed to be told.”
She wrote, “It seems almost cliché that the quiet nerdy kid had a toxic friendship with the knife, but that was my life. The only thing that made my story different from the self-harmers portrayed on television was the fact that my addiction didn’t start because of emotional trauma. I was never abused nor was I particularly unhappy.”
In the two-part essay she wrote at age 19, Anderson describes the addictive power of “cutting” and how she kept it from her friends and family. She told how, with support, she finally broke the addiction and urged others in a similar situation to reach out for help.
Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News
Khalid said telling the story of 12-year-old Saba Sher was crucial.
“It was important to show the world that there are a lot of less fortunate people in this world,” said Khalid. “There are kids who don’t know what it’s like being with your family, going to school, having friends, or making lists for the presents they want.
“More importantly, they don’t know what their basic rights are,” Khalid continued. “They don’t know much about themselves, how to keep safe and protect themselves.”
Khalid took photos of Saba and other Pakistani children at work and wrote a personal essay about the price of child labor that accompanied her news story.
“Children like Saba are a lesson to us and their stories are a call towards their rights to a happy and carefree adolescence,” said Khalid. “They deserve to get education, meet friends, learn new things, not to work day and night just to earn enough money to survive. Kids of Saba’s age should be out there playing in the fields, not washing dishes.”
Journalism Educator of the Year
“Choosing the Educator of the Year is always tough. There are so many caring, dedicated and talented teachers touching lives day in and day out,” Collins said.
But Kim Vinh, the adviser for the Sequoia High School Raven Report in Redwood City, Calif., stood out.
Simon Greenhill, a junior at Sequoia, said that Vinh “has an incredible talent for fostering enthusiasm in her students” because she “allows us to develop our own skills by guiding us without ever taking control of our work.”
Two of the paper’s editors, Caroline Lempert and Anna Dagum, were impressed that Vinh starts most classes with a question.
“We are given time to think,” they said, “and the class is quiet until somebody decides to share, eventually giving way to thought-provoking answers and rich discussion. The beginning of class embodies the two things that define Ms. Vinh as a teacher: her love of awkward silences and her ability to make students think.”
Julietta Efigenio, a parent, said Vinh also “truly embodies the spirit of freedom of speech as the students brainstorm ideas for stories, conduct the interviews themselves, write the articles and do the layout of the paper. Ms. Vinh acts as an advisor in the best sense of the word.”
Laurel Dearborn, the paper’s sports editor, said Vinh ensured her students have “a whirlwind of amazing experiences,” which is one of the things that makes journalism so wonderful.
Vinh, an English teacher for the past eight years who has taught journalism for the past four of them, said she learned in high school “how powerful it is to have an audience.”
She said that writing news gives students a place where they can work as professionals, telling stories for thousands of people who recognize they have “real credibility.”
It’s different than churning out papers for a grade, Vinh said.
“It really ups the ante for them” to have so many reading their work, she said. “It’s a real world, very valuable, experience.”
The other teachers nominated were also terrific and two were finalists this year: Erika Manternach of Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper, Utah and Brian Sweeney of Townsend Harris High School in Flushing, N.Y.
“From the work we saw and the words written by students across the world, we know there are many, many educators who put heart and soul into teaching journalism,” said Collins. “It warms our hearts.”

Youth Journalism International has been educating the next generation of news professionals and talented teens since 1994. Formally incorporated in 2007, it is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit public charity. Its website can be found at www.youthjournalism.org.
The contest covered work published in English between Jan. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2012. Those eligible must be 19 or under and not working professionally.
A complete list of this year’s contest winners follows, with links provided to some of the work [Note: We will be adding links to more of these winners later, but didn’t want to delay the announcement further.]. Comments by judges are in italics.
For more information, please contact Jackie Majerus, Youth Journalism International’s executive director, at (860) 523-9632 in Connecticut or write to jmajerus@youthjournalism.org.


WINNER: Joanie Lyons, Mountain Vista High School, Highlands Ranch, Colorado
FINALIST: Justina Liu, Guilderland High School, Guilderland Center, N.Y.
FINALIST: Zachary Babb, Cypress Falls High School, Houston, Texas


WINNER: Kim Vinh, Sequoia High School, Redwood City, Calif.
FINALIST: Brian Sweeney, Townsend-Harris High School, Flushing, NY
FINALIST: Erika Manternach, Juan Diego Catholic High School, Draper, Utah


WINNER: Tasman Anderson of the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, for “Self-Harm”
FINALIST: Deven Navani, Texting harms teens,” Chaboya Middle School, San Jose, Calif.
FINALIST: Anshul Kumar Pandey, of Youth Ki Awaaz in Madhya Pradesh, India, for “Mocking the Mahatma”


WINNER: Arooh Khalid of Crescent Model Higher Secondary School in Lahore, Pakistan, for “No School, Only Work for 12-Year-Old Pakistani Girl Working Daily As A Maid”

High Honors

NEWS – Individual reporting

FIRST PLACE: Michelle Chavez, of Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, Maryland, for “Northwood employee taken into custody”
Sex offense stories are among the most difficult things a reporter has to tackle. Chavez’s story is a balanced, well-reported news story in the wake of an arrest that deeply affected the community. Chavez examines the arrest from the perspective of administrators and students, providing a good look at its aftermath.

SECOND PLACE: Rachel Kuhr, of Juan Diego Catholic High School, Draper, Utah, for “Breaking the Curse of Anxiety
Kuhr handles a difficult topic well, getting her subjects to open up to her about what can be an intensely private problem. She manages to explain crippling anxiety in a way that brings the reader in realistically, expressing its seriousness without resorting to melodrama.

HONORABLE MENTION: Julie Fishbach of Roslyn High School, Roslyn Heights, N.Y., for “RHS Evacuated”

Fishbach handles a breaking event well as it unfolds – no small feat and a club every journalist needs to have in their bag. She provides a number of diverse perspectives on the event and let the sources tell the story.

HONORABLE MENTION: Eli Winter, of Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston, Texas, “City, Rice launch online tool that calculates storm risk
An interesting science story that gives readers an entertaining look at a local university project and lets them know what it means to them. Well sourced and well written.

HONORABLE MENTION: Savannah Harrelson, Borah High School, Boise, Idaho, for “Levy vote needed to maintain class sizes and funding

Harrelson does an excellent job explaining school funding, politics and the real world consequences of an important upcoming vote. A well-structured piece that gives readers what they need to understand a complex issue.

NEWS – Team reporting (multiple byline)

FIRST PLACE: Rachana and Ruchita Balasubramanian, of East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, New Jersey, for “Recovering from Sandy”
After nine days with no school after Hurricane Sandy slammed their state, Rachana and Ruchita Balasubramanian, sophomore siblings at New Jersey’s East Brunswick High School, rushed to produce a two-page spread on the destruction, according to their teacher, Cynthia Collins. They produced a thorough, solid and impressive package in record time for The Clarion. They are solid journalists with promising futures.

ENTERPRISE – (individual byline)

FIRST PLACE: Anshul Kumar Pandey, of Youth Ki Awaaz in Madhya Pradesh, India, for “Dilemma of Cow Slaughter in India”
HONORABLE MENTION: John Powell, Munro College, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, for “TEENvisits youth Science Forum”


FIRST PLACE: Mary Majerus-Collins, Yelena Samofalova, Avery St. Germain, Hall High School, West Hartford, Connecticut, for “Author Judy Blume Tells Her Own Stories”
Rather than merely reporting what author Judy Blume said during a local appearance, the team made the most of an opportunity to question her directly. With newswriting, photos and video, they did an excellent job of producing a package that covered many angles, writing about Blume’s own memories, her experiences with censorship and her advice to young writers. St. Germain also contributed a first-person sidebar that conveyed the excitement a young writer would have upon meeting an icon in youth literature.

PROFILE — Individual

FIRST PLACE: Rebecca Shaw of The Horace Mann School, Bronx, N.Y., for “P1N5: Two Juniors Adorn The Community”
SECOND PLACE: Matthew Borin of Roslyn High School, Roslyn Heights, N.Y., for “Student Profile: Jacob Goldstein”
HONORABLE MENTION: Soo Ji Lee of The Stanford Daily, Stanford University, for “The Fresh Set: Kylee Saunders, Japanese Pop Star”
HONORABLE MENTION: Rachel Kuhr, of Juan Diego Catholic High School, Draper, Utah, for “JD Dancer Leaps Toward Ballet Career”

FEATURES – Individual

FIRST PLACE: Lauren Fabiszak of The John Carroll School, Bel Air, Maryland, for “Xavia”
Nice article. Excellent topic handled with care. Good introduction, middle and conclusion. Very minor issues with grammar and a stark expression of opinion that could have easily been folded into the story but definitely a moving, compelling, well written article.
SECOND PLACE: Anisha Datta of Glencoe High School, Hillsboro, Oregon for “Year in France”
Very mature writing. Interesting article. Good introduction and good concluding paragraph with a bit of humor added.
HONORABLE MENTION: Leah Lebeau of Cypress Falls High School, Houston, Texas for “More Than Just a Voice”
Mature writing. Good introduction and conclusion. A bit repetitive and a bit choppy. Could have said the same thing with a more economical use of words.
HONORABLE MENTION: Robert Guthrie of Wallace Hall Academy, Dumfries, Scotland, for “CORE – Fruitful Start”
Mature writing style, good introduction paragraph, good concluding paragraph. A bit choppy in that it contained a series of paragraphs that were not blended from one to the other.
HONORABLE MENTION: Ella Leviyeva of Townsend Harris High School, Flushing, N.Y., for “Harrisites”
Nice article. Good introduction paragraph and a good conclusion. The article could have been a bit shorter. It had many interesting quotes but lacked the writer’s narrative to connect and flow from paragraph to paragraph.

FEATURES — Team (multiple byline)

FIRST PLACE: Rachel Kim, Kate Park, Jessica Um and Michael Yoon, of Seoul, South Korea, for “Korean Teens Learn Conflict Resolution”
This team captured all of the belly jitters and awkwardness that go along with being thrown together with strangers in an unfamiliar setting to tackle some pretty heavy material.
From a journalistic standpoint, the reporting was well done. The piece was the right length, included the proper attributions, and provided nice details about the workshop activities while capturing the vulnerabilities experienced by the young participants as their relationships evolved.
But in the spirit of Youth Journalism International, what made this piece a first-place winner for me was that the writers, in their reporting about a conference, managed still to put a spotlight on two struggles humans share across the globe. In the first instance, the writers made reference to the “heartbreaking” struggle for freedom many North Koreans pursue, often without success. This is a struggle with which young in many countries can identify. Secondly, I learned from this piece that bullying is as serious a problem for young people in Anseong, South Korea as it is for kids in the United States.
One of the privileges journalists have is to tell stories that draw connections between communities and draw people together. These reporters did just that.

SECOND PLACE: Ayla Burnett and Anisha Datta of the High School Journalism Workshop at the Albany Democrat Herald, Albany, Oregon, for “Kids Get in the Spirit of Healthy Cooking”
This story included a lot of nice detail mixed in with interesting facts about the obesity problem and how schools are addressing it.

HONORABLE MENTION, Youth Journalism International reporters Tasman Anderson in Australia, Bwette Daniels Gilbert in Uganda, Mariechen Puchert in South Africa, Evangeline Han in Malaysia, Roohani Deshpande and Pushkal Shivam in India, Waleed Tariq and Arooj Khalid in Pakistan, Edrees Kakar in Afghanistan, Chaewon Kim, Tom Moon, Eric Kim, Eugene Sung, Joanne Park and Jason Chung in South Korea, Narine Daneghyan in Armenia, Caroline Nelissen in The Netherlands, and in the United States, Ameni Mathlouthi, Mary Majerus-Collins, Alexandria Garry and Jason Soltys in Connecticut, Eli Winter in Texas and Tamar Gorgadze in Virginia, for “How the World’s Youth Celebrate Earth Day”

Film & Theatre Feature Writing

FIRST PLACE: Noah Kidron-Style, City of London School for Boys, London, England, for “War Horse Charms Buckingham Palace”
Mr. Kidron-Style’s experience, aside from being mind-blowingly awesome, is detailed beautifully in his article. While being surrounded by some of the world’s biggest celebrities, he remains clear-headed in his reportage and encapsulates what was undoubtedly an unforgettable experience. Next time, I want to be his date.

SECOND PLACE: Josh Goldenberg of Roslyn High School, Roslyn Heights, N.Y., for “RCP Presents Legally Blonde”
Mr. Goldenberg’s feature on the trials and tribulations surrounding the launch of a production of “Legally Blonde” was well reported. My major reservations concern a bland headline and an overall lack of point of view/forward thrust for the article. It meandered a bit trying to cover everything related to the production.

HONORABLE MENTION: Mary Majerus-Collins, Hall High School, West Hartford, Connecticut, for “Who is Bane? Why Does He Hate Batman?”
Miss Majerus-Collins does a fine and thoughtful job digging into the background on the character of Bane. She evidences a love of the subject matter, which is a good thing. The article presupposes a bit of knowledge about the Batman series and perhaps does not make a strong enough effort to tie it to the film.

EDITORIAL (unsigned; award goes to publication)

FIRST PLACE: The Borah Senator, Borah High School, Boise, Idaho, for “Safe Sex Ad Sparks Debate in Newspaper Staff”
This editorial gave the readers a valuable look inside the school’s newsroom, demonstrating the importance of a responsible, unfettered school newspaper as a voice of the students. It offered a chance for non-journalism students and faculty to consider how an idea can be debated and discussed until the editorial staff is comfortable taking a position. In this case, the “safe sex” position was contrary to the district’s position of abstinence only, making it not only carefully considered, but courageous. Editorials like this engage the student body, encourage readership and are the mark of an exemplary newspaper.

SECOND PLACE: The Borah Senator, Borah High School, Boise, Idaho, for “Council Strays Away from Democratic Political Process”
Again, the Senator staff shows it understands why a newspaper is needed as a watchdog in a community. In this case, the editorial points out a glaring problem with in-school elections and suggests how it can fairly easily be remedied.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Raven Report, Sequoia High School, Redwood City, Calif., for “The 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Show Thy Butt Cheeks”
Good for The Raven Report for pointing out what ought to be obvious, but clearly wasn’t, to the students at Sequoia, in an entertaining way.

MULTIMEDIA (audio or video news)

FIRST PLACE: Yelena Samofalova and Mary Majerus-Collins, Hall High School, West Hartford, Connecticut, for “24 Hours With Uncle Tom’s Cabin”
The reporters asked very good questions, including asking Thirman Milner to talk about his feelings toward the book and why he changed his mind about it and getting science teacher Howard Wright to compare science with history. And you brought out good answers from Amanda Roy about the reading itself.
What I would have changed:
The video itself seems to go on a bit too long. You might have gotten too much into the story. Maybe you could have edited out the second time Roy was presented. We did not need any more on the Center.
You could also have eliminated the interactive talk on the laptop; it’s doubtful that everyone got that.
It might have helped to add more readings in between the interviews. If the person you are about to interview is the person reading before that interview, the viewers get a chance to meet your subject in advance.
I like your horizontal format and there was little to no camera shake.

SECOND PLACE: Kiernan Majerus-Collins, Mary Majerus-Collins and Yelena Samofalova, Hall High School, West Hartford, Connecticut, for “NY Times Editor Hails Journalists’ Future”
Excellent interview question, helping Jill Abramson give a direct answer which works perfectly for video. I like that the reporters did not try to stuff too many questions into this piece, but asked the most important one and let the interviewee answer.
I’d rather see a horizontal format. Vertical videos do not fit into most players. The letterbox borders on both sides make the video itself small. When shooting video in horizontal format, you’re able to get a lot closer, plus you can include environment around your subject.

Multimedia features

FIRST PLACE: Chloe Chaobal, of Alaska Teen Media, for “Aggressors, Victims, Bystanders”
Chloe was the clear winner. She provided great “local” coverage of an important topic to her listeners: bullying. The piece was almost NPR quality, with colorful sound bites and concise writing. (She even has an NPR name.) The piece was clear, well organized, informative and easy to listen to.

HONORABLE MENTION: Max Jungreis, of Alaska Teen Media, for “David and Ted.”
Max got a great interview: The Unabomber’s brother. The piece was informative. However, what held this piece back as a piece of journalism is that David Kaczynski did not face many questions, but mostly spoke unprompted.

HONORABLE MENTION: Aviva Hirsch of Alaska Teen Media, for “Religion”
Aviva has a great voice and did some strong interviewing, and her piece was well organized. However, I felt the piece was somewhat one-sided in favorably portraying families who home school their children in a religious environment.

Multimedia opinion

FIRST PLACE: Leah Lebeau, Cypress Falls High School, Houston, Texas, for “Affirmative Action”
With clarity and confidence, Lebeau delivers her own perspective on the controversial topic of whether the race of a student should matter when it comes to college admissions.

Multimedia sports

FIRST PLACE: Corinne Hazen, Mason High School, Mason, Ohio, for “MBC Report: Reds’ sports broadcaster Marty Brennaman
This was so well done, it gets THREE first prizes… a great opening set the tone… nice interview location – up in the booth above the field – made things very comfortable… Of course, having a polished broadcasting professional as the interview subject made things a l-o-t easier… other than the interview, who did the page lay-out and the write-up? Both very well done… and, great stand-up at the end (“And this one belongs to the Reds” was clever).

SECOND PLACE: Aiman Jarrar, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for “Caledonia/Muskegon game breakdown
The “In the Zone” open was entertaining/interesting… nice attempt to do the segment on the field, giving it a sense of immediacy… the lighting was dark, and the audio was up and down, particularly at the beginning and the end, illustrating the risks of an outdoor production… viewers weren’t told who won/final score until 1:08 into the report… there was good use of stats to back up the analysis.

HONORABLE MENTION: Zac Babb, Cypress Falls High School, Houston, Texas, for “Monday Morning Sports”
First impressions mean a lot, so Zac – as our host – could have dressed nicer (better looking jeans and shirt-tucked-in would have set a better tone).
While production covered the basics, it could have been more creative. Could have done more even with just one camera – the interview was mechanical: same two-shot for questions, single shot (head-and-shoulders of coach) for answers, then back to two-shot for next question.
Zac did a good job presenting the questions in a very friendly, conversational manner. That seemed to be the proper approach for this type of interview – not meant to be a “Meet the Press” inquisition.

OPINION (bylined by one or more writers)

FIRST PLACE: Anisha Datta, Glencoe High School, Hillsboro, Oregon, for “Anti-Islam film lacks quality, leaves little doubt about intentions to incite”
Well-reasoned arguments in an engaging writing style.

SECOND PLACE: Aiman Jarrar, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for “Gun Control Needed After Newtown Murders”
With a piece that ran the same day as the murders, Jarrar wasted no time in presenting a coherent and reasonable argument for putting some restrictions on guns.

HONORABLE MENTION: Cresonia Hsieh of Spanish River Community High School in Delray Beach, Florida, for “Cleavage-Revealing Costumes Cheapen Halloween and Women Who Wear Them”

HONORABLE MENTION: Gawoon Shim of Cheongshim International Academy, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, for “Tensions are rising in Asia”

HONORABLE MENTION: Laurel Dearborn, Sequoia High School, Redwood City, Calif., for “Kings of the Kingdom”

COLUMN WRITING (individual)

FIRST PLACE: Mehran Shamit of William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute, Toronto, Canada, for “In Targeting Malala, Taliban Attacked Islam”

SECOND PLACE: Erik Tita of Juan Diego Catholic High School, Draper, Utah, for “Five Questions to Ask On Next College Visit”

HONORABLE MENTION: Laurel Dearborn of Sequoia High School, Redwood City, Calif., for “The Best Thing in Life is Free”

HONORABLE MENTION: Kelsey Watnes of Juan Diego Catholic High School, Draper, Utah, for “Use of Derogatory Terms still wrong”

HONORABLE MENTION: Jasmine Wang, East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, New Jersey, for “Students’ Struggles Go Far Beyond Homework”

FIRST PERSON ESSAY (individual byline)

FIRST PLACE: Ameni Mathlouthi, of Institut Superieur Des Langues De Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia, for “Proudly Tunisian and Part of the Revolution”
Ameni gave an important and brave opinion on a really harsh topic and she produced a valuable piece of journalism.

SECOND PLACE: Jasmine Wang, East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, New Jersey, for “Thanks, Elphie”
Jasmine gave her honest opinion on a controversial topic with a clean, fresh and enjoyable style.

HONORABLE MENTION: Sophia D’Angelo, of Roslyn High School of Roslyn Heights, N.Y., for “Out in Roslyn”
Sophia wrote a touching and inspiring piece which truly deserves to be published and read by everybody.


FIRST PLACE: Thuy Le, University of Pennsylvania, from Hanoi, Vietnam, for for “Jack Frost Nipping at Your Nose”
Great detail, use of color and shading, simple, concise

SECOND PLACE: Thuy Le, University of Pennsylvania, from Hanoi, Vietnam, for “Back to School Guide”
Great sequence, informative

HONORABLE MENTION: Yelena Samofalova, Hall High School, West Hartford, Connecticut, for “Beauty and Brilliance Lie Under Skin”
Understands simplicity and key symbols and expressions.



FIRST PLACE: Eli Winter of Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston, Texas, for “Strokes Still Shine in Latest Album, Angles.”
Eli’s review is engaging and pithy, but its most winning characteristic is the context Eli provides. I appreciated the comparison between a long-running rock band and a long-running comic strip, both of which have at one point taken a hiatus and tried to climb back on the horse, and I dug the additional comparison to the work of Guided by Voices, a band that not only has made a career of working in a limited sonic template (as The Strokes have), but also served as mentors and tourmates to The Strokes over a decade ago. Eli considers the record within the context of The Strokes’ whole oeuvre and within the context of what one might expect of a veteran rock act. He approaches the album both holistically and on a track-by-track basis, without the pace of the writing dragging (as often happens with track-by-track reviews). All in all, this review balances objective analysis and the subjective expectations of the long-time fan in a way that accomplishes what an arts review should always accomplish: It makes me trust the writer. He’s done his homework, and the subjective elements of this review make clear where he’s coming from.

SECOND PLACE: Justin Tepper of Roslyn High School of Roslyn Heights, N.Y., for “Battle of the Divas.”
This is a timely roundup around a theme of sorts – established major female pop stars whose new albums are angling to maintain the market share of each – that also balances objectivity and subjectivity quite well. Justin states his opinion boldly at times, but he does so as he asserts his knowledge of each singer’s catalogue. Again, he’s clearly done his homework, and this makes his writing feel authoritative. Capsule reviews of albums are challenging to write, but Justin has painted a vivid picture in miniature of each record. His tone is balanced and fair, and even though these four reviews are all brief, he approaches each with detail and nuance.

HONORABLE MENTION: Lauren Fabiszak of The John Carroll School, Bel Air, Maryland, for “Justin Bieber’s ‘Believe’ Tour Displays Pop Star’s Lasting Charm.”

Between this story and her Joe Jonas piece, Lauren’s descriptions of teenaged superfandom are detailed and infectious; she demonstrates a gift for communicating the manic exuberance of The Event. Although her Joe Jonas piece has a much snappier lede (it’s actually a pretty great lede), I felt this review was superior because Lauren resists lapsing into back-story territory and remains in the moment throughout, building up to a level of excitement that makes the reader feel like something important is happening. Even though Bieber’s concert spectacle sounds pretty much like the standard for a huge pop star, Lauren provides good historical context by contrasting this show to what Bieber was up to when he was ascendent two years back.

Film & Theatre Criticism

FIRST PLACE: Emily Couch of St. Margaret’s School, Exeter, England, for “Trapped In A Kentucky Cave, Floyd Collins Delivers Thrilling, Heartfelt London Theater”
Miss Couch’s review was thoughtful, multi-faceted and did the best job at conveying the particulars of the production. Many reviews fall prey to spending too much time on plot exposition at the expense of a viewpoint. The writer deftly avoided this while selling the strengths of the show. Based on her write-up, I would definitely buy a ticket.

SECOND PLACE: Madison Pollard, of Surrey, England, for “Sherlock Holmes”
Madison’s review had a consistent energy and was engaging. Be careful to re-read your article to make sure everything will make sense to your reader. There are two points where I, as the audience for your review, got confused. Clarity is essential, but overall, a job well done.

HONORABLE MENTION: Yelena Samofalova of Hall High School, West Hartford, Connecticut, for “Bringing Tubman’s Spirit And Strength To Life.”
Miss Samofalova did a nice job encapsulating her feelings about the play. The biggest area of concern was not synopsizing for the reader who Harriet Tubman was and how the play tells her story. Best course of approach with a review: assume the audience knows nothing and give them a little background.

General Reviews

FIRST PLACE: Hannah Kolitz of Roslyn High School, Roslyn Heights, N.Y., for “The Mindy Project”
The review on Mindy Project was well-written and timely. Portrayal of female leads in the media has been rather heavily talked about with the shows like “Girls.” Her review does a nice job of giving the wider overview on the portrayal of women in the media while focusing in on the actress and screenwriter, Mindy, and her contributions to bringing in a different perspective on women to the audience. It is a well-organized review that weaves all the elements together to incite interest on Mindy Kaling and how women like her can step up to challenge the norms successfully, with humor.

SECOND PLACE: Noah Kidron-Style of the City of London School for Boys, London, England, for “Rehearsal Reveals ‘Bizarre And Spectacular’ Opening Ceremonies For London Olympics”
On the Olympic ceremony, Noah analyzed the details well and pointed out the issue of “was it really for an international audience?” pretty well. Chariots of Fire is famous, but not exactly internationally recognized. But it was a showcase of British culture anyways, whether or not it was recognized. The writer pointed out good number of details that makes the whole ordeal interesting to follow, such as the London Philharmonic refusing to mime over the track.

HONORABLE MENTION: Daglar Ozkan of Aci High School, Istanbul, Turkey, for “The Wisdom of Youth”

The writer approached the idea of the wisdom of youth in the most honest way they could manage.


Sports News (individual or multiple byline)

FIRST PLACE: Libby Allnatt of Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper, Utah, for “Off to the Races”

SECOND PLACE: Zac Babb of Cypress Falls High School, Houston, Texas, for “Eagles Lose Bid for Championship”

HONORABLE MENTION: Meredith Haggerty of The John Carroll School, Bel Air, Maryland, for “Wrapping Up: Knowing the Risks of Sports Injuries Can Make or Break An Athlete’s Career”

HONORABLE MENTION: Kim Brenneisen of Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper, Utah, for “Lofty Goals Pay Off”

HONORABLE MENTION: Jilliam McClure of Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper, Utah, for “Football Rivals Have Long-Standing Bond”

Sports News (Team)

FIRST PLACE: Youth Journalism International reporters and photographers in the United Kingdom – Robert Guthrie of Dumfries, Scotland; Noah Kidron-Style of London, England, Nicole Hendry of Birmingham, England; Robert Mooney of Richmond, England; Ella Creamer of Devon, England and Myah Guild of Dunstable, England – for their coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

Sports Opinion

FIRST PLACE: Robert Guthrie of Wallace Hall Academy, Dumfries, Scotland, for “Proud to be British as London Games End”
Nice storytelling…great examples to illustrate your points….very good opening to frame the narrative and strong last few graphs of opinion to close and leave readers with a memorable impression.

SECOND PLACE: Eli Winter of Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston, Texas, for “At Age 50, Astros Still Waiting to Grow Up”
Good opinion columns lead to all kinds of reaction. They can be polarizing leading to half the readers agreeing with the columnist and the other half disagreeing. In this case, you brought strong opinions and backed them up with facts nicely. Well done. Now, just make sure you bring some thick skin because strong, entertaining opinions like yours in this column will undoubtedly polarize your readers.

HONORABLE MENTION: Line Hellem of Ekgangervag, Norway, for “Chasing her dream of wanting to fly”
Made it very relatable while keeping it fun. I’m ready to fly!

HONORABLE MENTION: Madison Pollard of Surrey, England, for “Entitled, Spectacle or Sport? Super Bowl XLVI”
Good perspective. You find a way to bring the reader inside your head to better understand and relate to your viewpoint even if we don’t share it.


News Photo

FIRST PLACE: Alli Hall of Deluth, Minnesota, for “Romney Speech Caps Unforgettable Week”
Although I would have liked to seen this shot cropped a little tighter, out of all the entries this one told the story without ever having to read a word of the accompanying copy. Alli brought us into the bright lights and center stage. With the confetti streaming and the Romney Ryan signs located throughout, I knew this was the culmination of a very exciting moment. Nothing else needed to be said.

SECOND PLACE: Arooj Khalid, of Crescent Model Higher Secondary School, Lahore, Pakistan, for “Garbage Pickers”
Again, I would have like to see a tighter shot but Arooj managed to capture the despair of a young woman as she and her donkey pulled, garbage laden cart travelled through a modern neighborhood. The placement of the girl and her cart with the automobile in the background showed the sharp contrast between the very poor and tomorrow’s politicians, engineers, journalists, doctors, artists and businessmen.

HONORABLE MENTION: Yasser Alaa of Pharos University, Alexandria, Egypt, for “Fire Dancer”
This was a beautiful image, technically proficient and eye-catching. While it certainly told a story, it is much more of a feature photo as opposed to a news photo.

Sports Photo

FIRST PLACE: Daniel Rich, Roslyn High School, Roslyn Heights, N.Y., for “Boys’ Varsity Basketball Hopes For Playoff Run”
This is another example of capturing peak action moment. Daniel got in close and pointed the camera at a normal angle. This allowed him to photograph the players’ bodies while in motion. There is a bit too much roof but not too much that a nice crop cannot fix.

SECOND PLACE: Michelle Chavez, Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, Maryland, for “Good Council Tip Off”
While the peak of action is excellent, there is way too much roof in this image. It looks like the picture was taken with a wide or normal angle lens. If you only have a small lens to cover sporting events, you have to get closer to the action.
Photographing basketball is much easier to do with less equipment than most sports.
Next time please try positioning yourself along the baseline. If you bring your lens down a bit you’ll be able to capture more of the athletes’ bodies and less roof.

Feature Photo

FIRST PLACE: Ella Creamer of Devon, England, for “Bike Rack
Good use of repetition and color, and it tells a story. Also it was one of the only submissions that came in close to their subject.

SECOND PLACE: Kaley Willis of Sulphur High School, Sulphur, Louisiana, for “View from the Eiffel Tower
Kaley earns second place for the story her photo tells about the city’s view.

HONORABLE MENTION: Stephanie Hamann of The Barstow School, Kansas City, Missouri, for “City of Fountains”

Photo Illustration

FIRST PLACE: Melissa Kalyoncu and Mimoza Kalyoncu of Roslyn High School, Roslyn Heights, N.Y., for “City Department Stores’ Christmas Windows Displays”