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More than 300 attend annual Journalism Scholars Day at WKU

Journalism Scholars Day, a 40-year tradition at WKU, attracted more than 300 Kentucky high school journalism students from 14 schools across the state to campus Friday (Nov. 30).

The four-hour conference included breakout sessions, a keynote address, scholarship writing contest and yearbook Mark of Excellence awards ceremony in Mass Media & Technology Hall and Gary Ransdell Hall.

More than 20 student media advisers from across Kentucky brought their staffs to attend sessions taught by WKU faculty and students as well as other journalism professionals.

The conference goal was to encourage excellence in high school media classes. It also provided high school students with the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills. Staffers and their advisers attended 20 breakout sessions with topics ranging from photography and feature writing to social media.

Gene Policinski, senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center in Nashville, gave the keynote address. Policinski, an advocate of journalism, has worked in print, television and radio news media throughout his career. During his address, he explored the rights protected by the First Amendment and how it continues to be relevant to the young generation of Facebook and Twitter users.

For two Kentucky high school students, however, it was more than just learning about their rights as citizens of the United States of America.

Erian Bradley, a senior from duPont Manual High School, won the on-site writing competition; Carmen Ray, a senior from Franklin-Simpson High School, was runner-up. Each student earned $500 scholarships to attend WKU in fall 2013.

The writing contest was facilitated by news/editorial faculty member Bob Adams. The contest required students to write a news story about the keynote address, self-edit and submit it in under an hour, just like a real newsroom.

Journalism Scholars Day attendees came from Ballard High School, Bowling Green High School, Daviess County High School, duPont Manual High School, Fern Creek Traditional High School, Fleming County High School, Franklin-Simpson High School, Jeffersontown High School, Louisville Male High School, Meade County High School, Mercy Academy, North Oldham High School, Ryle High School and Warren East High School.

Several participated in the Mark of Excellence Yearbook Contest awards ceremony. Seventeen schools entered their yearbooks in the contest. Best overall winners were Franklin-Simpson in Class AAA and duPont Manual in Class AAAA. (More: Check out the complete list of 2012 Mark of Excellence yearbook award winners).

Journalism Scholars Day, coordinated by Charlotte Turtle, was co-sponsored by the School of Journalism & Broadcasting, the Kentucky High School Media Institute, WKU, WKU’s chapter of Society of Professional Journalists, the College Heights Herald and Talisman.

Originally called High School Press Day, the conference was renamed Journalism Scholars Day in the late 1980s. Having a day devoted to high school journalism is a WKU tradition that dates to the 1970s. Loup Langton is the director of WKU’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting. Jo-Anne Ryan is the assistant director.

A component of the 21st Century Media Program of Distinction at WKU, the Kentucky High School Media Institute is funded by Kentucky’s Council on Post-Secondary Education Regional Excellence Trust Fund. The Institute’s primary goal is to support and supplement scholastic journalism endeavors in Kentucky.

Contact: Charlotte Turtle, (270) 745-3055.

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