By Jada Butler
The annual Best of High School Journalism Awards, hosted by the Department of Communications & Film, took place on Friday, March 23 in the Tilles Center Atrium. Over 200 students from 22 high schools across Long Island, Queens, New Jersey and Connecticut participated in the awards ceremony and interactive media workshops with professors and college students.
The awards day began at 10 a.m., with the students breaking off into groups to attend five media workshops: film, radio, television, newspaper and public relations.
“I thought [the workshops] were beneficial, just talking to people – students and professors – who are involved in the field. It was hands-on in a way, in terms of giving us things to think about and talk about,” Mike Farrell, a teacher at Freeport High School and the advisor to the school newspaper, “Flashings,” said.
“I thought the ethics one [held in the Pioneer newsroom] was the best one of them all. I think it’s something kids need to know because they are so prone to just writing whatever comes to their heads and not thinking of the repercussions and how it affects other people. I think there were some things brought up that they definitely needed to hear, especially in this day and age with all that has been happening with true journalism,” Sarah Millman, a teacher at North Shore High School and the advisor to “The Viking View,” said.
At the workshop on journalism ethics, students were given a copy of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics, and three ethics case scenarios to reason through. “I think they found it extremely worthwhile. I liked the fact that they felt comfortable enough to just speak up and participate; I think that was a great forum for them here,” Millman said.
James Vizza, a junior at North Shore, also found the ethics work-shop interesting. “It challenged us to think through decisions we would have to make as student journalists and it gave us a better framework for working through what we would face ethically,” he said. Vizza wants to study political science and journalism in college, and believes that these ethics skills can be applied to his career goal as a political analyst. “You need to just keep in mind the sort of concrete pillars that keep up the ethics of your work and make it credible as the truth,” he said.
Danielle Ligure, a sophomore at North Shore High School, found the radio workshop at WCWP to be the best. “I thought the speaker was very engaging and the information was very interesting. I learned the different biases that TV stations have and how to weave through them,” Ligure said.
Dustin Mandell, a senior at Lynbrook High School, found the television workshop in the TV studio in Humanities the most valuable because “the [high school student] volunteers who went up to do the gun control debate were really impressive. We learned about how we can empower young people and not be set aside from the adults, and how to give ourselves a voice, especially in journalism,” he said.
Mandell also enjoyed the journalism ethics workshop, especially with the current events. “We had a few ethics issues at our high school newspaper, so learning how to use those techniques and to see how
to not harm people but still publish what you need to do if you have stories was also valuable,” he said. “We as kids are the future and we need to learn these skills, so it’s definitely very valuable that they talk to us, and having the ethics code of conduct and using that to pursue my career will be very valuable,” Mandell said.
The awards began at 12 p.m., with opening remarks from Steven Breese, dean of the College of Arts, Communications & Design, and then a keynote address by Sandra Peddie, a veteran investigative reporter at Newsday. Over 40 students and newspapers won in categories ranging from best news story, to best photography and online publications. First place in the Best High School Newspaper category was awarded to the Hewlett Spectrum at Hewlett High School and The Phoenix at Kellenberg High School.
Photographs from the event are at www.instagram.com/liupostjournalism. High schools will be invited back to next year’s Best of High School Journalism Awards, which will be held on Friday, March 29, 2019. Information will be available at www.liu.edu/hsja soon.