PULLMAN, Wash. — Winners of the first annual Edward R. Murrow Symposium High School Journalism Contest have been announced and, based on the entries, many faculty of the school believe the future of print journalism is in good hands.

“We were pleasantly surprised with the number of entries for the first year of the competition,” said John Irby, associate professor and journalism degree program coordinator in the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication. “Placing high school journalists and the competition into the mix of the Murrow Symposium is a positive addition to the event. There is some good journalism being practiced at the high school level, shown by this competition.”

The competition attracted 79 entries from Washington state, Idaho, California and New York state.

High school journalism winners will be honored at the Career Day lunch. First place finishers will be presented with a certificate and a $50 gift voucher from the Bookie, the student bookstore. Certificates will be presented to second and third place and those who received honorable mentions. Plaques will be presented to the five winning high schools at the evening scholarship banquet.

Junior and senior students from the news editing (Journalism 330) course helped judge the high school entries. Students narrowed each field to the top five entries before working professionals determined the winners.

“I was surprised and very pleased to come in first,” said Jon Hecht, Scarsdale (NY) High School, winner in sports writing. “I’ve been writing for my high school and town newspapers for the past two years, but had never before submitted any writing in a competition. The award will serve to further my commitment to writing in general and journalistic writing in particular.” Hecht also placed second in the feature writing competition.

Rod Commons, Washington State’s assistant athletic director, sports information director, judged the sports writing category. “Wow,” said Commons in his critique of Hecht’s work, “this guy could write for a lot of dailies. Outstanding writing skills with the ability to write an in-depth article that keeps the reader’s attention.”

Amelia Veneziano, Richland High School, took first place in news writing. She said her winning article on shoplifting was sparked by social concern. “Teenagers have a bad reputation for things like shoplifting,” Veneziano said. “I want to make people in my community – and whoever else I can impact–see that not all teenagers are bad. When I write, I want to teach people, and encourage them to care about something they might not otherwise care about.”

James Tinney, director of the Washington State University News Bureau, judged the news writing competition. In his comments, Tinney called the piece “…a well-written and complete look at a problem that affects both the school and the community. Through interviews, the reporter did a good job getting the perspective of the people who work in the store and of giving students a different outlook on this issue. An excellent job.”

Megan Brewington took first place for feature writing. Brewington, a senior at Sandpoint (ID) High School said, “I was very surprised to receive the award. I take pride in myself as a writer and hope to pursue a career in that field, but I have never won an award and did not expect that to change with this contest,” she said. 

Tim Steury, editor of Washington State Magazine, said the feature was a very impressive piece of writing.  “Good background, good reporting, nice style.” Steury called the writing, “confident and engaging.”

Richland High School’s newspaper “The Sandstorm” won the competition  for best edition. “We feel particularly honored,” said Robin Morris, journalism advisor at Richland High School. “We are very pleased to be winners in the Murrow School’s inaugural competition. I like for my students to write for a different audience. It’s important to have that opportunity. I tell them writing is important beyond the classroom, way beyond.”

Irby judged the best edition competition. He called “The Sandstorm,” “a very high quality high school newspaper. It is clear,” he said in his written evaluation, “there is some strong advising and hard work taking place. While the traditional elements of journalism are present, including clear and interesting writing and stories, the newspaper also has a typographical style that is well-suited for a younger audience.”

First place in the photojournalism category was awarded to Yarrow Frank. “I was really excited and proud,” said Frank. “I never really won anything in my life,” she said.

Erin Daniels, Sandpoint High School journalism advisor to Brewington and Frank, said they worked really hard on those projects. “It was wonderful to see them recognized for it,” Daniels said. “My grandfather, who advised this same paper for 30 years, said he would have made a human sacrifice to win an award with Edward R. Murrow’s name attached to it. I think that sums up how I was feeling.”

This year’s symposium features the presentation of the 2004 Edward R. Murrow award for lifetime achievement in broadcasting to Peter Jennings, ABC News “World News Tonight” anchor/senior editor. The presentation, followed by Jennings’ talk on current affairs, is free and open to the public at 7:30 p.m. April 14 in the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.

The following are high school journalism competition winners and honorable mentions:

News Writing
1. Amelia Veneziano, Richland HS
2. Madeline de Maintenon, Wapato HS
3. Sara Butler, Ferris HS (Spokane)
Honorable mention: Lindsey Hylton, Ilwaco High School, and Rachel Luna, Rachel Luna, Hercules (CA) High School

Sports Writing
1. Jon Hecht, Scarsdale (NY) HS
2. Nancy Pham, Lake Washington HS (Kirkland)
3. Graham Goldbeck, Hercules (CA) HS
Honorable mention: Alissa Sole, Newport HS (Bellevue), Xander Knox, Emerald Ridge HS (South Hill)

Feature writing
1. Megan Brewington, Sandpoint (ID) HS
2. Jon Hecht, Scarsdale (NY) HS
3. Jennifer Jamall, Juanita HS (Seattle)
Honorable mention: Jeffrey Marquez, Hercules (CA) HS; Kalie Dove-Maguire and Blair Hopkins Ellensburg HS; Michael Wallenfels, Richland HS

1. Yarrow Frank, Sandpoint HS
2. Michelle Leisure, Peninsula HS (Gig Harbor)
3. Tove Tupper, Lynden Christian HS

1. Sandstorm, Richland HS
2. Sound, Gig Harbor HS
3. Knightlife, Newport HS (Bellevue)
Honorable mention: Cedar Post, Sandpoint HS; Titan Template, Hercules (CA) HS.