PSJA Journalism Contest

Quill and Scroll partners with Private School Journalism Association

About the Contest

The PSJA Journalism Contest, co-sponsored by Quill and Scroll, seeks to honor the best journalism produced by private and independent school students. It is a “portfolio” contest, one that seeks not to reward single stories, but a pattern of excellence over the course of a year.

Other than Editorial Leadership, work produced for the contest should have been published in a news publication — in print or online — or a yearbook between March 30, 2023 and Feb. 29, 2024. Deadline for entries will be Friday, March 1, 2024. An awards ceremony will occur after judging is finalized. 

Individual first-place winners will receive plaques, while second- and third-place winners will receive unframed certificates. Quill and Scroll will tabulate points of all students who place in the competition and award the Blue and Gold Award plaque to the school that compiles the most points.

The top school will also earn free memberships to Quill and Scroll for its winning students, provided they meet the organization’s academic standards (3.0 GPA or top-third in one’s class: sophomore, junior or senior, and have a Quill and Scroll Charter).

Each individual entry will cost $20 for PSJA member schools ($25 for non-members). Payment can be made by credit card or check. To become a member of the Private School Journalism Association, please contact David Cutler or go to the PSJA website.

The Entry Spreadsheet for the contest is available, so start thinking about your best work.

Contest judges will come from the ranks of professional journalists and professors of journalism.

Instructions

Advisers at all PSJA member institutions will receive a link to the Entry Spreadsheet from PSJA in early January. If you no longer have that communication, please contact David Cutler at [email protected]

Once you have the link to the View-Only Entry Spreadsheet:

  1. Open the sheet and make a copy for yourself. 
  2. Rename your spreadsheet to indicate your school, i.e. “Brimmer PSJA Contest.”
  3. Above the blue line, type in the information fully for Adviser Name and Email (Column A), School Name and Address (Column C), and Payment Type (Column E).
  4. Choose Payment type in the dropdown menu on the spreadsheet. 
    • The cost is $20 per entry. So if you have five students enter, that’s $100.
    • You may pay via credit card at this link: https://form.jotform.com/222135567471052 or by check. Credit card payments will be subject to a service charge by an outside vendor.
    • Quill and Scroll will invoice you via your email by April 7, and checks must be received no later than April 21. 
    • Checks should be made out to “Quill and Scroll” and mailed to: Quill and Scroll, 2829 University Ave. SE, Suite 720, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55414.
  5. Fill in the information for each student entering.
    1. Type in the full name.
    2. Use the dropdown under “Category” to choose the category.
    3. Provide a URL to a folder that contains the work of the student entering that particular category.
      • Google folders are easily shared, just make sure the folder is viewable by the public. Dropbox is another option, or a student may create his/her portfolio on a website such as https://www.journoportfolio.com/
      • If a student is entering a reporting/writing or social media category, and the stories were published online, simply provide us with a document that has the links to the stories. 
      • If a student is entering a reporting/writing category, and the stories were published in print only, provide us with a folder containing PDFs of the stories.
      • If a student is entering a category that asks for photography, please provide a .jpg of the photo and either a link to the photo as it was published online, or a link to the page on which it was published so judges may read captions.
  6. After you save your spreadsheet, submit it to [email protected] by sharing its unique link and making sure it is viewable by the public.
    1. Hit “Copy Link” and paste that link in the email to [email protected]
  7. If you have any questions about your entries, please email Quill and Scroll Associate Director Lori Keekley at [email protected]
  8. Wait until the announcement of the winners!

Categories

Editorial Leadership

  • The editorial team from each student publication should submit a letter on managing a newsroom at their private or independent school, along with at least five examples (stories, photos, design elements, etc.) that resulted from the team’s leadership. Applicants should explain how their leadership helped the publication confront a sensitive or challenging issue, unique to their school.

Continuous Team Coverage

  • Publications should submit three to five three stories by at least three different reporters offering in-depth coverage of the same topic, which should be somewhat specific. For example, don’t submit three stories about “the administration.” Instead, report how the administration addressed a specific issue. Video and audio stories can be included.

Freshman of the Year 

  • A portfolio submission by a single person, including up to five articles and a letter explaining the significance of the applicant’s contributions. Video and audio stories can be included.

Sophomore of the Year

  • A portfolio submission by a single person, including up to five articles and a letter explaining the significance of the applicant’s contributions. Video and audio stories can be included.

Junior of the Year 

  • A portfolio submission by a single person, including up to five articles and a letter explaining the significance of the applicant’s contributions. Video and audio stories can be included.

News Writer of the Year

  • A portfolio submission by a single person, including up to five articles. Submissions should focus specifically on stories about news that happens in your community and/or school. These can include but aren’t limited to: breaking news, coverage of scheduled events, in-depth news packages (even if part of team coverage), Video and audio stories can be included if there’s clear evidence of script writing in the stories.

Features Writer of the Year

  • A portfolio submission by a single person, including up to five articles. Submissions should focus on people and events in your community and/or school. These can include but aren’t limited to:  trend stories, arts features, event coverage (previews and post-event stories), profiles, features and historical stories. Video and audio stories can be included if there’s clear evidence of script writing in the stories.

Sports Writer of the Year

  • A portfolio submission by a single person, including up to five articles. Submissions can include but aren’t limited to: sports news, game coverage (previews and post-game stories), profiles, features, historical stories, sports opinion, and stories that aren’t about school-sponsored athletics, though the preponderance of a portfolio should cover the school and its athletes and coaches. Video and audio stories can be included if there’s clear evidence of script writing in the stories.

Opinions Writer of the Year

  • A portfolio submission by a single person, including up to five articles. Submissions can include but aren’t limited to: news analysis, editorials, personal columns and critiques of the arts. Video and audio stories can be included if there’s clear evidence of script writing in the stories. 

Photographer of the Year

  • A portfolio submission by a single person, including up to 10 photos with captions. The photos can run the gamut of sports, news, features, portraits and photo illustrations, but the winning portfolio is likely to show the photographer’s skill at mastering different types of assignments.

Social Media Journalist of the Year

  • A portfolio submission by a single person, including up to 10 posts. The posts can run the gamut of social media platforms, but the winning portfolio is likely to show skill with design and reader engagement.

Versatile Journalist of the Year

  • A portfolio submission by a single person that highlights a student-journalist’s ability to excel across categories. A portfolio could include a news story, a feature story, a sports story, an opinion piece, a photo, an illustration, a design, a podcast, a video package — no more than one per type, and no more than five examples in a single entry.

Designer of the Year

  • A portfolio submission by a single person, including up to eight designs. The designs can run the gamut of print, online, social media, etc., but the winning portfolio is likely to show the designer’s skills at mastering different types of assignments.