Feb. 19, 2021. Late entries will not be accepted. Candidates will be notified via email by April 1 about whether they were selected.
Members of MIPA’s Student Journalist Staff are graduating students who excel at their student media outlets. This is our honorary “all-state team.” They are selected based on portfolios of their work.
Candidates for the Student Journalist Staff must be seniors. Each member school may nominate one candidate in each area of primary interest of the Staff:
- Digital media
- News writing & reporting
- News design
- Yearbook design
- Yearbook writing
Candidates will be evaluated based largely on work in the area of primary interest, but they are encouraged to also include work in other areas.
One staff member in each interest area will receive a $500 All-MIPA scholarship. One member will be selected as Michigan’s representative in the Journalism Education Association’s Journalist of the Year competition. Scholarship funds are paid directly to the honoree’s college and must be claimed within one year or the award money is forfeited.
Student Journalist Staff members will be recognized at the annual MIPA Awards Celebration. Photos of the staff will be printed in the event program and notices will be sent to the student’s local media.
The entry includes two parts (detailed below) that are submitted together via the same online form:
- The application form, which includes contact information, an essay, academic transcript, letters of recommendation and resume. Details below.
- An online portfolio of the student’s work.
Application Form Materials
Preview the application form – You must complete our online entry form, but here’s a Word copy of the questions we ask.
Please gather all required materials before filling out the application form (protect your privacy, do not include these materials in your online portfolio):
- Information about the student and parents/guardians, as well as local media contact information for the award announcement.
- Official high school transcript or a counselor’s statement including journalism classes taken, grades and current GPA. Scan the transcript and upload it as a PDF.
- A formal head shot of the candidate AND an action photo of the candidate involved in some aspect of student media. Make sure each digital file has the candidate’s name on it. For instance: smith.jpg. This must be a high-resolution photo — not a social media photo or screen shot. Please provide photo at its full, original file size. The action shot should have an extended caption written for that photo. If there is more than one person in the photo, please use location of candidate (left, right, etc.) for identification.
- Three letters of recommendation from those who know the candidate well and understand the impact of their journalistic experience. No letter should exceed two pages in length. Scan letters and upload them as PDFs.
- A resume of activities and achievements in scholastic journalism and other activities.
- A self-analytical essay written by the candidate. Students should write with passion and make an impact on the judges because this essay functions as the applicant’s one-on-one interview. Essay should not exceed two pages in length. The essay must be typed and should include:
- how working in journalism has impacted the applicant’s life
- challenges faced along the way and how these were overcome
- future goals and aspirations; include college plans.
- Submit portfolio URL in the application form. The portfolio must exist as a website at a publicly accessible URL.
- Applicants will select one primary area of interest (areas of interest are listed above). Portfolio materials will focus on that primary area. Materials from secondary interests are strongly encouraged, but Student Journalist Staff judges will focus scoring on the student’s primary area.
- MIPA recommends students include six to 12 work samples in their primary area of interest. Focus on quality over quantity.
- Work examples can be from throughout the student’s journalism career and showcase the student’s progress over time as a journalist. Work examples may include published work, work slated for later publication, class assignments and/or other exceptional work that showcases desired skills in this contest.
- Organize your portfolio materials into the following categories. Only use the categories in which you have exceptional work examples, and discard any categories that are not appropriate for your portfolio and the work you do.
- Reporting & Writing
- Editing, Leadership & Team Building
- Broadcast Journalism
- Web and Social Media
- Law, Ethics and News Literacy
- Marketing and Audience Engagement
- Commitment to Diversity (Work in this area might also be embedded in other categories in lieu of creating a dedicated category in the portfolio)
- All work included in the portfolio must be labeled with a clear, concise reflection about the work. Include:
- Evidence of usage/publication (date published, publication name, page or URL, etc.)
- Awards received, if applicable
- Explanation/reasoning for each work example. Tell us about the work and why it’s special! Include any difficulties encountered and special circumstances affecting it. Each explanation should be fewer than 100 words, easy to read and should explain why this entry is important and was chosen for the portfolio.
- Due to time constraints, judges may only evaluate five minutes of any single audio, video or multimedia work example. If you have work in your portfolio that is longer, MIPA encourages you include a shorter segment. You may still include the full work.
- The applicant’s personality should be evident in the entry. The student should choose a design concept for the portfolio.
Submitting a Portfolio
No more than one portfolio per school may be submitted in each of the following areas: news writing & reporting, news design, yearbook writing, yearbook design, broadcast, photojournalism or digital media.
- Submit a portfolio via the online application form.
- Portfolios that cannot be accessed publicly by the judges will be disqualified.
- Entries must be submitted by the contest deadline. Late entries will not be accepted.
- Fill out the application form as directed.
Please note: Contest criteria changes slightly every year, so these portfolios may not fulfill all requirements of this year’s contest. Portfolios may have been updated since they were originally submitted for competition.
- Rebekah Allen, 2020 All-MIPA Broadcast
- Julie Heng, 2020 All-MIPA News Writing & Reporting
- Isaac McKenna, 2020 All-MIPA News Design
- Julian McKenzie, 2020 All-MIPA Yearbook Design
- Gracie Warda, 2020 All-MIPA Digital Media
- Cameon Wade, 2019 All-MIPA Video
- Halle Welter, 2020 All-MIPA Yearbook Writing
- View information on all 2020 Student Journalist staff members
A panel of at least two judges will evaluate the portfolios in each of the areas of interest. Judges may not work in any area of interest in which they have a student entered.
Are you an adviser interested in judging Student Journalist Staff porfolios? Contact [email protected] at least one week prior to the contest deadline to be assigned to a judging committee. Please include in your email the names of any students submitting portfolios into this year’s contest and to which area of interest they are applying. Judges work remotely and must complete their work in the two weeks following the contest deadline. Thank you!
The national Journalism Education Association also has some resources about building a portfolio that could be helpful. JEA’s resources are aligned with its national Journalist of the Year contest, which is similar to MIPA’s Student Journalist Staff but has some key differences. Pay close attention to our contest instructions.
Have a question about how to put together your portfolio? Take a look at our frequently asked questions list here. If you don’t find an answer to your question, contact us at [email protected].
What should I use to build my digital portfolio?
You can use any platform to showcase your work, as long as it’s available at its own URL. There are many free and low-cost website building platforms that are super easy to use.
Do not use file sharing sites that would require a judge to download the portfolio (i.e. Google Drive, Dropbox). The portfolio should live online to be accessed with a URL.
I want to build a website. What platform should I use?
There are a lot of options to build an organized, professional-looking portfolio website. Here are a few to consider:
- Blog Platforms
- WordPress: A WordPress website gives you a lot of flexibility to make a custom portfolio that matches your personality and meets your technical needs. The Journalism Education Association has createda guide for building a portfolio using WordPress for its Journalist of the Year competition. JEA’s portfolio requirements are very similar to MIPA’s Student Journalist Staff competition. A WordPress.com site is free.
- Blogger & Tumblr: Other blog site tools, like Blogger or even Tumblr, also could work, although they don’t give you as much flexibility as WordPress.
- Website Building Tools: There are a variety of tools to let you easily build free websites. Here are a few you might consider.
- Portfolio Sites for Journalists: These sites have free and paid packages and are used by many professional journalists to create online portfolios. Each site is slightly different and offers different options. Depending on your work samples (writing vs. photography vs. video), each has strengths and weaknesses. Before you spend any time building a site using any of these platforms, make sure it will work to present all of your materials.
For a good overview of these options, read this PBS MediaShift article on building a journalism portfolio.
How should I organize my work samples?
We recommend that you organize your portfolio materials using the following categories: Reporting & Writing; Editing, Leadership & Team Building; Design; Broadcast Journalism; Photojournalism; Web and Social Media; Law, Ethics & News Literacy; Marketing and Audience Engagement; and Commitment to Diversity.
These categories are the core areas of the Journalism Education Association Journalist of the Year Contest, and are aligned with JEA’s journalism curriculum initiative.
It’s OK if you don’t have materials for all of these categories. The goal is not to try to find something to fill every category. Only use the categories in which you have appropropriate portfolio materials, and discard any categories that are not appropriate for your porfolio.
What if I don't have work samples for all categories listed in the requirements?
It’s OK if you don’t have materials for all categories. The goal is not to try to find something to fill every category. Only use the categories in which you have appropriate portfolio materials, and discard any categories that are not appropriate for your portfolio.
Can I make my portfolio an EPUB or iBook?
No, not for this competition.
Your portfolio must exist on the Internet at its own URL. EPUBs, iBooks and other digital book formats may require specific readers/software or only be viewable on a single platform. We need to be able to access your portfolio from a regular Web browser.
How do I apply for All-MIPA?
The judges will select students for the All-MIPA designation based on their Student Journalist Staff portfolios. You don’t need to take any additional steps.
How do I apply for JEA Student Journalist of the Year-Michigan Representative?
The judges will select a student to be Michigan’s representative for the JEA Student Journalist of the Year contest based on Student Journalist Staff portfolios. You don’t need to take any additional steps.
If you are selected for this honor, you will be contacted by Michigan’s JEA state chair, who will work with you to prepare your portfolio for the national competition.
What should NOT be included in my online portfolio?
Protect your privacy! Do not include your transcript, letters of recommendation or contact information in your online portfolio. You will submit these materials on the application form in MIPA’s contest submission system.
Is this contest for seniors only?
Yes. Applicants must be graduating seniors.
Do I have to major in journalism or a related field in college?
No. This contest evaluates the work you have done throughout your scholastic journalism career.
What should I include on my resume? Is there a particular format I should use?
Your resume should focus on your activities and achievements in scholastic journalism. This could include the positions you have held on your student media outlet, awards and recognition you have received, journalism-related workshops and trainings you have attended and more. You may also choose to include jobs and volunteer activities that showcase your leadership and/or community involvement.
Choose quality over quantity when selecting what information to put on your resume. Make sure your resume is neat and organized. In the professional world, most journalist’s resumes are only one page.
Can my portfolio include work that I have done outside of school?
Do all of the materials in my portfolio need to have been published?
No. In most cases, judges will view published work (or work slated for future publication, such as the upcoming yearbook) more favorably than work that has not been published and will not be published.
But, maybe you have a great essay about something journalism-related, or materials you put together to promote student press rights to your school board, or an amazing research project on media literacy, or a great presentation that you did to the local Rotary. You can still include those kinds of materials, but make sure it’s clear in the required explanation/reasoning for each piece why it’s included in your portfolio.
What should be included in the explanation/reasoning for each portfolio item?
The explanation/reasoning includes the applicant’s explanation about the specific assignment. What makes it a great example of your work? Did you encounter any difficulties in completing it? How is this item special? When was it published or created, and for what publication/program/etc.?
Explanation should be brief (less than 100 words), easy to read and should explain why this entry is important and was chosen for the portfolio.
If you were asked to describe why you’re proud of a specific work, what would you say? That’s a great starting point for the written explanation in your portfolio.
Who should I have write a letter of recommendation?
Candidates should ask those who know them best and can speak to the significance of their journalism experience. This might include professional journalist mentors, your adviser, other teachers or administrators, your peers and others. But be sure they can speak intelligently and with authority to your work as a student journalist – not merely to how great you are personally or as a student.
People who can speak with authority about you because of their experiences with you often are more valuable for letters of recommendations than people who have important titles but don’t know you very well.
Can I put my letters of recommendation in my online portfolio?
We recommend against that. The people who wrote you letters of recommendation probably didn’t intend for the world to see them. You’ll be able to submit these letters via the online application form.
Can the person writing a letter of recommendation send it directly to MIPA?
We prefer the person writing a letter of recommendation give their letter directly to you so that you can upload it with your application. If the letter is submitted separately from your application, it’s possible that it might not arrive by the deadline or it could get lost and never read by our reviewers.
Can I include my transcript or grades in my online portfolio?
We recommend against that. No matter how great your grades are, your transcript should be kept private. You’ll be able to submit this information via the online application form.