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Colorado Student Media Association


Colorado Student Media Association


Colorado Student Media Association


Student journalists submit strong portfolios


Each year, CSMA recognizes strong student work through the “XXX of the Year” portfolio competitions, which encompass various areas of speciality: Reporter, Designer, Photographer, Broadcast Journalist, and Middle School Journalist. This year’s candidates submitted portfolios by April 15. Those submissions were reviewed by top journalists and educators from across the nation.

Results of the 2021 competition will be released on social media and this page on Tuesday, May 4. Each winner receives $250, plus $250 for his or her publication.


Updated May 4, 2021, at 4:51 pm.


Reporter of the Year
Carly Philpott – Cherry Creek High School

Judge Jeff Browne’s comments: Carly is a strong storyteller with an advanced sense of social justice and understanding of how politics affects all of us, including high school students. Her localized story about COVID vaccinations in Colorado included tons of interviews, great structure, and excellent writing. Her opinion piece on creeping fascism combined graphic and narrative storytelling to make her point. She also did some great visual reporting with a photo story about the effects of the East Troublesome Fire, breaking national news with local reaction about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and a spot-on screed about the travails of now-former Rockies’ General Manager Jeff Bridich. All in all, Carly’s portfolio shone through because of her thorough reporting, her strong writing, and her multimedia storytelling skills. And she’s just a sophomore. Wow.


Photographer of the Year
Jespyn Bishop – Brighton High School

Judge Mark Murray’s comments: The top portfolio included a strong variety of work from sports action to academic moments. I appreciated the photographer’s ability to layer their photographs, incorporating foreground, middle ground and background to provide depth to the images. I felt that the photographer did a great job of capturing the year of the pandemic but also telling good stories at the same time. And while they aren’t required, I appreciated the in-depth captions for each photograph. 


Middle School Journalist of the Year
Kayla Grenwis – Drake Middle School

Judge Sarah Nichols’ comments: Kayla’s portfolio wowed me on multiple levels — from her outstanding performance in yearbook, broadcast and newspaper staffs to the exemplary leadership toward the programs, not just their publications (such as initiating a special recruitment drive by visiting sixth grade classrooms). From reflecting on the importance of finding her voice as a writer for yearbook theme copy to taking on extra spreads not originally assigned to her, Kayla demonstrated growth, maturity and passion. Clearly Kayla’s leadership and participation across these publications/staffs helped create an atmosphere of high engagement celebrating student voice, collaboration, creativity and innovation. 


Designer of the Year
Amanda Brauchler – Rock Canyon High School

Judge Mitch Eden’s comments: Amanda not only created designs, but she created a handful of more mods/infographics that were stunning.
What worked

  • The thoughtfulness in your statements. You know your stuff, you’re invested and you care. Love seeing this passion and dedication in young adults.
  • Dominance
  • Strong verbal/visual connection 
  • Balance and hierarchy – overall excellent job at directing eyeflow
  • Appropriate use of color
  • Creative, modern designs (and fun – we could all use a little fun!)
  • Font plan and control
  • Yearbook designs didn’t look yearbooky. Looked like a magazine–awesome
  • Your designs are on par with the professionals for the most part: clean, consistent and beautiful


Broadcast Journalist of the Year
Benjamin Parris – Cherry Creek High School

Judge Aaron Manfull’s comments: Really solid portfolio. You obviously have worked really hard to hone your craft. You have a very polished presence on camera and you showcased a nice variety of clips here. Really great job with play by play. You definitely have done your research and you have a well thought out game plan for each call. You did a great job adjusting given the circumstances of this past year and look to have made some really great pieces of work in spite of things. Really like the video essay as well. Also, nice to see other things you can do like your Twitter account and photos as well. You’ve got a really nice site to showcase all your hard work.

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