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JEA Impact Award winner sheds light on teen suicide

The Journalism Education Association has selected Justice Bennett, a Malvern (Pennsylvania) Preparatory School senior as its 2016 Student Journalist Impact Award winner.

Following a rash of local suicides, Bennett, who is editor-in-chief of The Blackfriar Chronicle student newspaper, addressed the issue of teen suicide.

Wanting to start a conversation about suicide and bringing a topic that is often not discussed into the open, Bennett was cautious in his approach, as he did not want to encourage suicides or cast dispersions on those who had taken their lives.

For his story, Bennett drew on a number of angles that included statistics, suicide prevention, intervention strategies and resources for families and friends on reacting to and healing from a suicide. His reporting resulted in suicide-prevention training at his school. Additionally, his story, “A Light of Exposure,” was reprinted or quoted in several publications.

JEA praised the Bennett’s reporting. “This student journalist clearly demonstrated the power of the student press and the impact it can have,” said Kenson Siver, chair of the Impact Award panel. “The article was thoroughly researched, well written and tapped into local resources.”

Impact Award panelist John Bowen further noted, “(Bennett) put an immense amount of work into the story and related materials, including community and commercial outlets. It is to his credit that he is now referred to as an expert and resource for others.”

The Blackfriar Chronicle is the 18th recipient of this award. The JEA Student Journalist Impact Award was created in 1993 to recognize a secondary school student or team of students who, through the study and practice of journalism, have made a significant difference in their own lives, the lives of others, the school they attend and/or the community in which they reside. The Impact Award recognizes student writing that brings issues to the forefront and from the walls of the high school to the world at large.

The award will be presented at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, April 14-17.

For further information, contact JEA Impact Award Chairman Kenson Siver at kensonsiver@aol.com or 248-569-4286.

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