This spring, Youth Journalism International, a Connecticut-based educational nonprofit, celebrates its Sweet 16th with a gift to talented young writers, photographers, and cartoonists around the globe: The first worldwide journalism contest for teens.
In the 16 years since it formed in 1994 to teach local teens about journalism, Youth Journalism International has blossomed into an international organization with students around the world.
Now the group is sponsoring an annual contest to further its mission of promoting a free youth press.
“Young journalists play an important role telling stories that adults often overlook ,” said Jackie Majerus, executive director at YJI. “These awards are a way to celebrate their best work.”
The contest is accepting entries until May 7. Young journalists of any nationality aged 19 or younger who are not paid professionals may enter.
“The contest is just another way for YJI to support young journalists,” said Katie Jordan of Bristol, Conn., an editor for YJI. “There are a lot of great young writers out there who deserve to be recognized.”
The contest accepts entries in the categories of news, features, reviews, sports, cartoons and photography.
Students may also enter samples of work to be considered for the title of Student Journalist of the Year, or submit an essay nominating a journalism teacher or advisor for Journalism Educator of the Year.
The contest also features two special awards: The Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary and The Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News.
The Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award will honor an individual who gave voice to an important issue through opinion writing. The award is a tribute to Bunnell, who was severely disabled and died last year at the age of 26. Her legacy included a commitment by those whose lives she touched to focus on that most crucial question: “What do you think?”
The Frank Keegan Award will honor an individual who showed the nose for news exemplified by longtime newsman Frank Keegan, whose love of journalism and determination that it has a future helped give birth to Youth Journalism International.
“Frank was with us from day one,” said Steve Collins, YJI’s president. “We’re glad to have a way to honor him by showcasing some of the best work that young reporters are doing around the globe.”
To enter, students should submit copies of their work published in English online or in print between Jan. 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010. Entries must be postmarked or emailed by 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Friday, May 7, 2010.
Entry fees for the contest are $3 for individual entries in the categories of news, features, reviews, sports, cartoons and photography. Fees are $6 for each news or feature team entry.
For both the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary and the Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News, the entry fee is $5. In the categories of Student Journalist of the Year and Journalism Educator of the Year, entry fees are $10.
To make the contest truly accessible to all, students who can’t afford these fees can include a confidential note of explanation with their contest entry, and YJI may waive the fee.
Winners will be announced in June on the YJI website and the organization will mail certificates and trophies to the winners.
The contest entry form and detailed instructions on how to enter can be found online at www.youthjournalism.org.
Youth Journalism International is a recognized 501(c)(3) public charity by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. A non-governmental organization, YJI depends on donations from supporters to continue its important work training the next generation of journalists.