Frequently Asked Questions

Learn about JEA's Journalist of the Year scholarship competition with program coordinator Joe Humphrey. In the video below, he will look at the process, the rubric, best practices for creating a student portfolio and more.

This video is the recorded session from the Fall 2020 JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention. Student journalists asked questions about the Journalist of the Year application process.

Please note two updates that have been made after production of these videos:

  • Applicants are no longer required to have two years of scholastic journalism experience, though most will.
  • JEA has increased the number of finalists to four and the finalist scholarship amount to $1,000.

Applicants are encouraged to view the Portfolio Polish videos to learn more about the portfolio requirements.

What information will I need to complete the application?

State winners or designees who complete the application will need the following:

  • Student and adviser contact information
  • Up to three letters of recommendation combined into a single PDF
  • A personal narrative
  • A resume
  • A link to the applicant’s portfolio, which must be public and not password protected
  • A transcript or counselor statement 
  • An “action photo” of the applicant
  • A portrait or school photo of the applicant
  • Social media handles for the applicant, winner and winner’s publication(s)
  • Contact information for local media and stakeholders such as school district leaders
  • Applicant future plans, if known

Is this contest for seniors only?

Yes, eligible applicants must be seniors or equivalent for international schools. It is never too early, however, to start building a portfolio of work examples. That can start at any time.

Is this contest only for those majoring in journalism or related field for college?


Can a candidate skip entering the state contest and apply only for the national contest?

No, candidates who enter the national contest must be the winner of their state contest.

What if my state does not offer an online contest?

If you are the state's winner, you would need to convert your portfolio and other materials to digital format before submitting the national contest.

What if I’m an international student?

Applicants from outside the United States should submit their entries to JEA’s global engagement director. Up to three international portfolios (with no more than one per country) may advance to the JEA competition at the judges’ discretion. High school seniors (or students in the equivalent final year of secondary school) are encouraged to enter and must be nominated by a JEA member adviser.

Can a candidate submitting for the state contest use the form on JEA’s website?

No, the online submission form on JEA's website is for the national contest only. At the state level, candidates should contact their state director to obtain submission.

Are there any limits on how many work examples a candidate can enter?

Because the contest is digital, there is no limit. But keep in mind that judges only have a certain amount of time to review a portfolio. So quality over quantity is important when considering what work to include. The goal is to showcase the student journalist.

Is there a certain resume format to use? Or are there requirements of what to include on a resume?

There is not a particular format to use for the resume. Again, the goal is to showcase the student journalist. Listing experience that qualifies a candidate for this contest is important. Like the work examples, narrow down and choose quality over quantity.

Do work examples need to be in published format?

This is a two-part answer:

  1. If the work has been published, it is not required to be submitted in its original context. It is important, however, for candidates to prove themselves as student journalists. For most cases, the judges will view the published work examples as the more credible approach.
  2. If the work has not been published, it still can be included, but the candidate must explain in the reflection/analysis why the work was included.

If a candidate has published work that was done outside of school, is that acceptable to enter?

Yes. Candidates are welcome to include work not in their school media as part of their work examples.

What should be included with each work example?

Each work example for the portfolio must be labeled with:

  • The applicable category
  • If published, the evidence of usage/publication of example should the candidate see it fit to include
  • If entered in any contest, how the work example placed if applicable
  • Published or non-published, an explanation/reasoning for each example. The explanation/reasoning includes the applicant’s explanation about the specific assignment. Include any difficulties encountered with the assignment and special circumstances affecting it. Explanation should typically be less than 100 words in length), easy to read and should explain why this entry is important and was chosen for the portfolio.

Who should a candidate ask to write their letters of recommendation?

Candidates should ask those who know them best and can speak to the significance of their journalism experience.

Can a candidate post the letters of recommendation and/or transcript on the portfolio website?

These items are required to be uploaded for the national contest. This information should be kept private.

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