Jefferson’s publications recognized at JEA/NSPA fall convention


The staff of tjTODAY and Technique stand with the awards received at the Journalism Education Association (JEA)/National Student Press Association (NSPA) Fall National High School Journalism Convention from Nov. 14 to 17. Photo by Ellen Kan.

Sandy Cho and Stav Nachum

As the names of tjTODAY, tjTODAY Online, Techniques and Threshold were called on stage for their exemplary works last school year, the staff of tjTODAY and Techniques cheered loudly, proud for the recognition of their efforts. The Journalism Education Association (JEA)/National Student Press Association (NSPA) Fall National High School Journalism Convention was held at the Sheraton Boston Hotel and Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Mass., taking place from Nov. 14 to 17.

“I was thrilled for our newspaper to have won so many awards and received so much recognition in Boston,” senior Yena Seo, the social media editor, said. “We worked extremely hard last year to win another Pacemaker, so hearing our name be called and going up to receive the plaque was an amazing feeling.”

TjTODAY received its fourth consecutive Pacemaker, an award given to high school publications with quality writing and reporting, as well as creative graphics, art and photography, since 2009.

“We were last to be announced as a Pacemaker winner and I could feel my heart beating out of my chest because I really didn’t want to have the students lose it,” adviser Erinn Harris said. “I’m glad that I didn’t have to deal with the disappointment and I was incredibly happy that I was there to help the staff celebrate.”

In addition, the print paper received fourth place in the “Best of Show” category, which is awarded to the top several publications only present at the convention.

“Even though Pacemaker is considered the big prize, when we got fourth in ‘Best of Show,’ it was an absolutely unbelievable moment,” senior Shayna Hume, the Editor-in-Chief, said. “I don’t think anyone on staff even realized until we won that ‘Best of Show’ is based on the latest issue. We were all so proud of the work we’d done over the last couple weeks.”

However, the staff was extremely surprised to hear that the fledgling online newspaper, tjTODAY Online, received second place in its respective “Best of Show” competition.

“I was really shocked. I didn’t expect us to place that high as a newer online newspaper, especially competing against the really good online newspapers from across the country,” junior Lindsay Williams, the online editor, said. “I thought we might place, but second place was really awe-inspiring.”

Due to revamping the online paper with a new platform and intensifying focus at the beginning of this school year, the staff did not expect to receive recognition so early in their efforts to bring awareness for the website.

“The ‘Best of Show’ for large school website was going through and they read the tenth, the ninth, the eighth, the seventh and the sixth, and they were all really big names for journalism programs so I wasn’t expecting at all to place in the competition,” Harris said. “All of a sudden, number two came up and it was us and we just all lost it.”

Also recognized for its excellence at the award ceremony was Threshold. Placing third place amongst the other schools in the nation, Jefferson’s literary magazine has increased its ranking from previous years.

“When I found out I was elated. I am so proud of the 2012-2013 staff that we achieved such high marks,” the former Threshold Editor-in-Chief, Naomi Naik, said. “I hope that 2013 to 2014 can continue our streak of success.”

In addition, Jefferson’s yearbook, Techniques, received seventh place in the “Best of Show” for yearbooks among hundreds of high school yearbooks present at the convention.

“To know that, out of a nationwide competition of yearbooks, we came out as seventh is incredible. I think it is a nice indication of how we are doing,” senior and Co-Editor-in-Chief Madison Phillips said. “It was amazing to win, but for me, yearbook isn’t about placing; I care more about the students at TJ liking the yearbook.”

Senior Tara Gupta who makes the cartoons seen in the print newspaper, also received recognition in the individual awards for cartooning. Her cartoon from last year’s print cycle cleverly depicted the New Jersey government asking for money for Hurricane Sandy relief simply as a puppet for the United States Congress. She received honorable mention for this cartoon in the award ceremony amongst the many other cartoons from across the nation.

Despite all the awards Jefferson’s publications received at this year’s fall convention, all the staffs hope to continue producing work at a high caliber.

“In the coming years I just want for the staffs to continue to uphold the excellent standards that we’ve all set for ourselves,” Harris said. “I don’t like to make predictions, but I always keep my fingers crossed.”