Jefferson receives First Amendment Press Freedom Award


The Journalism Education Association recognized nine high schools, Jefferson among them, as winners of the first amendment press freedom award.

Lyat Melese, Staff Writer

Jefferson’s scholastic media program received the first amendment press freedom award from the Journalism Education Association. The award recognizes schools who teach the first amendment rights and responsibilities to students and teachers. Jefferson received this award along with nine other private and public high schools.

The competition for this award is rigorous and required two rounds of applications where advisors and editors filled out questionnaires. During the first round, only one media advisor, along one other student editor had to write an application. Once Jefferson advanced past the preliminary round, Dr. Ann Bonitatibus and editors from every publication had to fill out the form.

“Eight people had to fill out the second round application to make sure that we are in fact a school where students do have the freedom of the press in all publications,” TJ Media advisor Erinn Harris said.

The award was especially geared towards student run media and publications. All of Jefferson’s publications including Threshold, Teknos, Jefferson’s broadcast program, tjToday, and yearbook were included in the application process.

This was the first time Jefferson was recognized for this award, though it applied last year. 

“This year, we did a little bit more education and information and that’s how I think we were able to make it and get the award,” Harris said.

Student’s have also been increasing their involvement in the media by lobbying for student Journalism across the state and participating in the New Voices in Virginia legislation. 

“ [To continue to excel in student journalism] we just need to keep doing what we’re doing and continue having a good working relationship with administration and the school community while practicing responsible and ethical journalism,” Harris said.