Media Students Challenged by Hands-On State Level Contest
Five members of the McDowell Media program have written, videotaped and photographed their way to the Pennsylvania School Press Association Student Journalism Competition Championship at Penn State University Park on March 29.
To get to this competition, the students had to qualify at the regional competition on Oct. 12, 2016. Depending on the category, they could either submit their work when they checked into the competition, which was called a “carry-in” submission, or students had to write their pieces live at the competition, which was called an “on-site” submission. Students also had the option to attend seminars taught by professionals at this competition.
At the state competition on March 29, all students will have to do everything on-site. Isabelle Southard, a freshman attending the competition, described what they are doing as “covering the competition itself.” She will compete in photography and will have to take seven pictures, each fulfilling a separate skill requirement, while at the competition.
Junior Charlie Oviatt will also be competing in the photography category. Carl Biggie, a McDowell sophomore, and Josh Rohrbach, a junior, will compete in the broadcast journalism category. Katie Conrad, a junior, will write a poem during the competition based on a theme that she receives the day of the competition.
McDowell students have never been to this competition before, so they don’t really know what to expect. However, they are excited to feel the pressure of a real journalistic situation on the day of the event.
Stephanie Weiss, communication teacher at McDowell, said that the live competition is “much more realistic to what the real world is like” in terms of deadlines and efforts to get everything completed on time.
Weiss was surprised that the students had to complete all new submissions for the state level competition, but said that the live aspect of it “levels the playing field” among all of the competitors. If students had a lot of help the first time around with their submissions, they won’t this time. Another difference is the topic they are covering. The subject matter for regionals was different for everyone competing, but at Penn State everyone will have to cover the day’s events.
After the competition, students will have three days to turn in their photography and broadcast submissions electronically. The on-site participants will find out their results at the event, but students competing in broadcast journalism and photography will find out how they measure up against the rest of Pennsylvania after they submit their projects on April 3.