JEA honors Asher with Aspiring Young Journalist Award

JEA honors Asher with Aspiring Young Journalist Award

The Journalism Education Association has named Ariel Asher of Red Oak (Texas) Middle School, the 2018 Aspiring Young Journalist Award honoree. JEA presents this award to junior high/middle school students to acknowledge and reward their work, and to encourage them to continue their journalistic studies in high school.

Sydney Wilfong of Altoona (Pennsylvania) Area Junior High School was selected as runner-up.

Asher served for two years as a senior staff writer, editor and anchor for RO: In the Know, the online school newspaper at Red Oak Middle School. His adviser, Myia Griffith, wrote, “”Seeing the maturity in both his work ethic and his reporting skills has revealed his ability to grasp the importance of quality reporting, despite the myriad distractions that come with being a middle school honor student.”

Asher also was nominated as journalism Student Senate leader for his class as he has earned the respect of his peers. Regarding his achievements in journalism, Griffith wrote, “This young man has become more proactive in covering news features and preparing for interviews with sources (adult and peers alike). He can be trusted to research, construct questions, conduct interviews and compose well organized stories with little to no supervision.”

According to judge Beth Shull of The Baptist Preparatory School, Little Rock, Arkansas, Asher’s thoroughness in reporting on academic projects for his school set him apart as a young journalist.

“With topics of tomato seeds in space and chickens serving as student companions, there were many reader questions to be addressed,” Shull said. “Ariel did an excellent job with all assignments submitted for the contest. His own words from the application reveal a promising future: ‘Because of journalism, the truth holds a prominent position in my mind.’”

Asher exhibited all of the categories required of the applicants: skilled and creative use of media in his submissions, an inquiring mind, responsible handling of issues and breadth of journalist experiences.

“It’s not every day that a middle school student pitches a story about a school board member and then conducts an eight-minute interview of him,” said judge Renee Burke, MJE, of Orange County Public Schools, Orlando, Florida. “His other writing pieces showed maturity, skill and promise for future growth.”

Sydney Wilfong served as a reporter for “Livewire” online newspaper at Altoona Area Junior High School. As a reporter, she wrote feature news stories, blogs, columns, editorials and captured photos for her stories. She has a particular interest in opinion writing.

Her adviser, Wanda Vanish, CJE, wrote, “Sydney chose to focus this year on opinion writing and has developed a unique and successful style with her writing. She chose to write her blog this year featuring different kids’ meals and has worked hard to establish the continuity of that blog. The various columns and editorials she writes add unique content to the online publication.”
But Wilfong demonstrated to the judges her versatility as a journalist.

“Sydney showed off numerous skills in her portfolio,” said judge Dennis Leizear, CJE of Padua Academy in Wilmington, Delaware. “From covering sports, to photography, to blogging and writing editorials, Sydney exemplifies all the skills needed to take her far in journalism. Her opinion piece on extra credit was well thought out and had some great points.”

The award winners were recognized Saturday, April 14 at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco.

Founded in 1924, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, by promoting professionalism, by encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and by fostering an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

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