Trophies from Youth Journalism International's 2016 Excellence in Journalism contest.
WEST HARTFORD, Conn., U.S.A. – January 23, 2017 - Connecticut-based non-profit organization Youth Journalism International is hosting its eighth annual Excellence in Journalism contest, the largest in the world for English language work published by amateur journalists aged 19 or younger. The event aims to further YJI’s mission of promoting a free youth press, fostering cross-cultural understanding and showcasing the voices of the next generation. In the contest, original content published in 2016 will be judged by professional journalists, educators and experts in related fields. The deadline for entry is 11:30PM EST on Feb. 3, 2017 (see rules for details).
The international contest features “High Honors” prizes in more than 20 specific categories, including individual and team reporting, sports journalism, multimedia, reviews and more. In addition, five “Highest Honors” prizes recognize outstanding commitment to key values of journalism as well as journalism education. Winners receive YJI prizes and often receive acknowledgements from local and national/international news outlets as well.
Francisco Martinez of the Alaska Teen Media Institute won the 2016 Frank Keegan "Take No Prisoners" Award for News for his story on a new drug, spice, that was sweeping his community.
This year, “Technology” has been added as a category for High Honors prizes, in recognition of the profound impact that technological advances have had and will continue to have on the world around us. Another change is the expansion of the “Sports” category definition to include “Esports,” or professional video gaming. Work in any journalistic medium that focuses on Esports is officially included in its respective Sports category. For example, an Esports photo submission would be judged alongside Sports photos and receive a Sports category prize.
“Youth Journalism International is dedicated to providing next-generation resources and community for thousands of young aspiring journalists across the globe,” said YJI Executive Director and veteran journalist Jackie Majerus. “From our beginnings as a teen newspaper in 1994, we have served as a platform for young people to hone their reporting skills and collaborate online and in-person to see their perspectives impact the world. Our annual contest is a celebrated part of recognizing and encouraging that work.”
The 2016 YJI Excellence in Journalism contest saw nearly 100 winners in 19 U.S. states and nine nations across five continents. Students and student publications in middle schools, high schools and universities were recognized for original content ranging from reporting on local drug addiction epidemics to features on discrimination against LGBT teens to photo essays about India.
The contest’s coveted Courage in Journalism award has been given to young journalists who investigated teen murder and rape in Ethiopia, overcame challenges to launch independent, internationally-flavored news sites and more.
“The truth is, YJI saved my life,” wrote former YJI reporter Jessica Elsayed, winner of the first Courage in Journalism prize in 2011 for her coverage of the Arab Spring in Egypt. “It showed me that that I, like all youth, have respectable thoughts that, when put into writing, are priceless.” Elsayed went on to graduate from Denison University in Ohio, U.S.A. and become an AmeriCorps member who currently works in Community Refugee and Immigration Services in Columbus, Ohio.
Previous contests and winners have been highlighted by NPR, NBC affiliates, the Journalism Education Association, WorldNetDaily.com, the International Journalists Network and many other notable organizations and publications. Winners have gone on to attend some of the world’s most prestigious post secondary schools and some are professional journalists.
About Youth Journalism International
The genesis of YJI traces back to 1994, when Majerus and YJI board President Steve Collins started a teen publication in Bristol, Connecticut called The Tattoo. When The Tattoo went online in 1996 as the first website devoted entirely to student journalism, it sparked keen domestic and international interest, which led to YJI’s formal incorporation in 2007. As YJI’s network grew to more than 200 students in dozens of countries (and more on the waiting list), the platform has featured eyewitness reporting on nearly every major story of the past decade worldwide; YJI reporters have attended press events by international journalism outlets like ESPN, interviewed the Dalai Lama and more. Visit YJI at http://youthjournalism.org/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/YouthJournalism/.
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