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Colorado Student Media Association


Colorado Student Media Association


Colorado Student Media Association


Middle School Journalist of the Year

NOTE: Each current CSMA member medium may sponsor ONE portfolio, by ONE student journalist. 

What is this?
This competition honors our best middle school journalists by selecting the best portfolio of work from this school year. This contest differs from Best of Colorado individual contests, including newsmagazine, yearbook and broadcast awards (though such entries might be part of a design portfolio). This contest honors work from 8th grade journalists from the current school year that demonstrates broad excellence.

This competition requires the journalist to submit actual examples of work in a portfolio format. All portfolios will be viewed on computer screens. Do not print and mail your portfolio.

The 8th grade student who submits the top portfolio will be named the CSMA Middle School Journalist of the YearThe winner receives a prize of $250 and the winner’s program receives a check for an additional $250.

The online form for all entries in this competition is here. Please note that the entire form must be completed in one sitting — the system will not save partial forms.

What is a portfolio?
Entrants should select a maximum of 10 examples of their journalistic work created during the current school year and place them in a portfolio folder (to be shared through Dropbox or some other sharing site) or on a website (a personal site, perhaps using WordPress.com free hosting, or using a photo sharing site such as Flickr).

The general purposes of a portfolio include helping attain scholarships and getting hired as a journalist, among other things. This specific portfolio is to demonstrate a student’s skills to best communicate information to specific audiences.

What will judges look for?
All portfolios should be submitted digitally. A student-created website is strongly recommended. The applicant must include the following in a portfolio:

  • Photo of the applicant.
  • One to three letters of recommendation. (One must be written by the publication teacher/adviser. The other two may be written by current or past teachers or community members who know the student [other than the parent].)
  • A minimum of five examples, with a maximum of ten, of the applicant’s journalistic work with an explanation of each written by the applicant. We highly recommend showing the breadth of your journalistic experience, and you are encouraged to include both written and photographic/visual samples.
  • Written explanations should include why the student chose the example, what the student did to create the example, what the student learned while creating it, what the student might do differently in creating a similar piece in the future.
  • Writing sample answering the question, “What is the importance and benefit of middle school journalism programs?”

Who may enter?
Each current CSMA member medium may sponsor ONE portfolio, by ONE student journalist. Entrants must be current 8th graders, and must have been a staff member of at least one student medium at the school for at least the current school year. The work in the portfolio must have been published to qualify, or, in the case of yearbook spreads, will be published in this year’s book.

How do we enter?
Carefully gather high-resolution PDF copies of your best work since last August and place them in one folder, which you share through Dropbox or some similar file sharing site, or share through your Flickr account (or some similar service), or through your own page on a website. All entries must use the online application form – and then the portfolios will be distributed to the judges by CSMA.

When is the deadline for submission?
Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MT, April 15.

When do we get results?
Judging will be finished by May 15, and CSMA will announce first, second and third place winners, plus any honorable mentions awarded by judges, during the last week of May. Award certificates will be mailed to schools that week. This contest is not a critique, so only general comments from the judges will be shared.

There are no enrollment classifications for this contest. Again, only 8th graders are eligible to enter.

Top portfolios may also be shared through the CSMA social media and website following judging and notification of winners..

What if we have more questions?
Contact Elise Carlson at [email protected] or call 970.930.1877.

Past Winners
2023 – Charlotte Jones, Drake MS – See her portfolio here. Read the judge’s comments here.
2022 – Caitlyn Nguyen, Drake MS – See her portfolio here.
2021 – Kayla Grenwis, Drake MS – See her portfolio here. Read judge Sarah Nichols’ comments here.
2020 – Will Beller, Sierra MS – See his portfolio here. Read judge Sarah Nichols’ comments here.
2019 – Madison Hansen, Cimarron MS – See her portfolio here.
2018 – Abby Mensing, Cimarron MS
2017 – Grace Stebbins, Sierra MS
2016 – Hayden Christensen, Sierra MS