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Colorado Student Media Association


Colorado Student Media Association


Colorado Student Media Association


Reporter of the Year

NOTE: Each current CSMA member medium may sponsor ONE portfolio, by ONE student journalist. Each student may only enter one category (e.g., either Reporter or Designer, but not both).

What is this?
This contest honors our best reporters by selecting the best written work from this school year. This contest differs from Best of Colorado individual contests, such as News Writing, Sports-Feature writing or Critical Review writing in that it will reward reporters based on a portfolio of work. This contest honors reporting work from this school year, whether done for a yearbook, news publication or website (in fact, you may include examples from a mix of media), and rewards reporters who demonstrate 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 student who submits the top portfolio will be named the CSMA Reporter 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 for this competition is here. Please note that the entire form must be completed at once — the system will not save partial forms.

What is a portfolio?
Entrants should select up to six (6) examples of their reporting 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,).

An “example” may be as extensive as is necessary to share your reporting. If you wish to submit a personality profile and your reporting was simply the text itself, include a PDF of that page/spread in your portfolio, along with a brief explanation of why you chose this example and any background on your reporting that might be of interest to a judge.

If an example is from a spread or large page, and not everything on that spread or page was reported by the applicant, the judges will need an indication of which reporting was yours (perhaps with a red box around those items). Examples of reporting often include text (or prose) but perhaps just as often include captions, sidebars and even photographs and illustrations. Again, an example should include a short commentary from the entrant explaining why this example was chosen and any context the judges should be aware of.  A collection of those elements, all reported by the applicant, count as ONE example.

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?
Though there is no hard and fast “rule” for what sort of material to submit, consider including samples in a range of areas/categories including:

  • Feature Story
  • News Story
  • Sports Story
  • Package Reporting/Alternative Copy report

Judges would like to see versatility and depth in your reporting. A portfolio is only as strong as its weakest part, so don’t feel you have to include 5 examples if you only have 3 really strong ones. Judges want to know that the reporter can demonstrate quality reporting across a range of categories that exhibit consistency of skill and artistry of storytelling. Readers should be able to see evidence of the reporter’s abilities to implement and synthesize the elements of successful reporting: research, interviewing, planning, writing.

Who may enter?
Each current CSMA member medium may sponsor ONE portfolio, by ONE student journalist. Entrants may be in any grade, but must have been a staff member of at least one student medium at the school during the current school year. The work in the portfolio must have been published to qualify, or, in the case of yearbook reporting, will be published in the current 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 ISSUU account (or some similar service), or through your own page on a website (highly recommended). 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, and schools will create their own methods of honoring their students. This contest is not a critique, so only general comments from the judges will be shared.

There are no enrollment classifications for this contest.

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 – Carly Philpott, Cherry Creek HS – See her portfolio here. Read the judge’s comments here.
2022 – Kira Zizzo, Rock Canyon HS – See her portfolio here.
2021 – Carly Philpott, Cherry Creek HS – See her portfolio here. Read judge Jeff Browne’s comments here.
2020 – Kira Zizzo, Rock Canyon HS – See her portfolio here. Read judge Jeff Browne’s comments here.
2019 – Tucker Reichow, Brighton HS – See his portfolio here.  
2018 – Gabe Barnard, Mountain Vista HS
2017 – Hannah Metzger, Rangeview HS
2016 – Emily Leo, Standley Lake HS