Every year, MIPA honors the top journalism students in Michigan with our All-MIPA/Student Journalist Staff honors. In addition, MIPA nominates a candidate from Michigan to compete in the Journalism Education Association’s Journalist of the Year competition.

In 2012, MIPA required only one portfolio from students to be considered for both the MIPA and the JEA competition. Because these are two different contests, run by two separate organizations, we ran into some unexpected glitches with that process. Recent changes to JEA’s Journalist of the Year standards for the 2013 competition also created some complications. Therefore, for 2013, MIPA is returning to its past practice of requiring separate portfolios for the All-MIPA/Student Journalist competition and the JEA competition. We are continuing to work to align these contests to make it easier for our students to enter and be competitive on the national stage.

This primer on MIPA’s contests is designed to help answer any questions you might have.


WHAT IS IT? This award is given to the top student in Michigan in each of four primary areas of interest:

  • Newspaper
  • Yearbook
  • Photography
  • Video

HOW DO STUDENTS APPLY FOR CONSIDERATION? Students create a portfolio using the All-MIPA guidelines. Judges critique portfolios based on a rubric. (NOTE: Staffs are only allowed to put forth one nominee/portfolio per primary area of interest. If more than one student per staff submits, both students may be disqualified.) Being named All-MIPA comes with a $250 college scholarship.

Get the guidelines and entry form.

Student Journalist Staff

WHAT IS IT? This is essentially MIPA’s version of an All-State Team. Each year, MIPA honors a staff of the best of the best student journalists from around the state. Typically this staff consists of 12-15 students. This staff includes the four All-MIPA students as well as students whose portfolios display work that the judges merit worthy of consideration on the Student Journalist Staff.

HOW DO STUDENTS APPLY FOR CONSIDERATION? All students who submit a portfolio for All-MIPA consideration are automatically considered for the Student Journalist Staff.

Get the guidelines and entry form.

JEA Journalist of the Year-Michigan

WHAT IS IT? This award goes to the student journalist in Michigan who will represent the state in the Journalism Education Association’s national contest. JEA is a national organization of advisers and student journalists with a mission similar to MIPA’s. Many MIPA advisers are also JEA members. One representative of each staff can apply for this award. The same student may apply for BOTH All-MIPA and JEA Student of the Year. Essentially, this award goes to the top all-around student journalist in Michigan, regardless of their primary area of interest.

HOW DO STUDENTS APPLY FOR CONSIDERATION? Students submit a portfolio to MIPA following JEA’s criteria.

Get JEA’s guidelines and entry form.

PLEASE NOTE: Entries should be submitted directly to MIPA, not to the JEA State Director. The deadline is Feb. 15, 2013 – the same as MIPA’s other individual contests.

Other questions you may have

WHY ARE THESE CONTESTS DIFFERENT? JEA and MIPA are two different organizations. Essentially, JEA’s criteria and MIPA’s are slightly different — JEA is looking for all-around excellence across multiple formats and platforms, while MIPA’s awards reward excellence in a particular platform (newspaper, yearbook, video and photojournalism). In the past, MIPA has used its own format and then chosen the strongest portfolio to send to JEA for the national competition. However, since our requirements don’t align perfectly with JEA’s, that meant Michigan has not always sent the strongest possible portfolio under JEA’s standards to the national competition.

SO WHY DOESN’T MIPA SIMPLY REALIGN ITS CRITERIA TO JEA? We’d like to — and we’ve aligned the requirements everywhere we can this year to try to make it easier on students. But with journalism in a state of major change, MIPA recognizes that different schools and staffs in Michigan are in different places — especially where digital/new media is concerned. We feel JEA’s judging standards may put too many students at a disadvantage for All-MIPA consideration since JEA has a stronger emphasis on multi-platform journalism. This way a student who, for example, had a very impressive background in yearbook, but hadn’t done much in the way of online journalism or video journalism, would still be able to submit a portfolio that contributed strongly for our All-MIPA and Student Journalist Staff.

MIPA’s board  feels strongly that our contests and awards should recognize students for excellent work, but should also push students and staffs toward the sort of work that journalists will be expected to do in the post-high school world. That’s why we have nearly all of the same application requirements as JEA’s contest. We even are encouraging students to submit work in their portfolio that may be outside their primary area of interest (so students who focus on yearbook can also include clips from newspaper or video). At the same time, we want to continue recognize students who specialize in one area. For this year at least, the board has decided the only way to do justice to both goals is with separate portfolios.

SO WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THE PORTFOLIOS? Honestly, not much. And that’s intentional. We expect that some students will turn in two copies of a nearly identical portfolio. The only difference in requirements is that JEA asks for an action photo, while MIPA wants a head shot for our All-MIPA/Student Journalist Staff competition.

But these portfolios will be judged using two different standards. MIPA judges will focus on a single primary area of interest — newspaper, yearbook, video or photojournalism. JEA’s judging standards give more points to students who have multi-platform skills. So students entering the MIPA contest will want to focus more attention on their work in one of these four areas. Those entering the JEA contest should have a well-rounded portfolio.

BUT I DON’T HAVE EXPERIENCE IN MULTIPLE AREAS OF JOURNALISM. CAN I STILL ENTER THESE CONTESTS? Yes. Build your portfolio around the experiences you have had. If you enter the All-MIPA newspaper contest, put your attention there and don’t worry if you don’t have yearbook, video or photo experience. But if you have experiences in other areas, include that work too. That kind of work across student media of all types makes your portfolio a stronger contender for JEA’s Journalist of the Year.

I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS. Email the MIPA office at [email protected] We’ll be happy to help.