Journalist of the Year Portfolio 2017
I first got involved in journalism during my sophomore year of high school, and was thrust into pursuing a passion that I knew from the start was going to last a lifetime. I started by covering local sports for my high school paper, The Charger, and wrote several features on high school athletes. I also developed a strong interest in design to complement my writing.
My junior year, I was promoted to sports and managing editor for The Charger and began my leadership role on staff.
That same year, I was offered a contributing role for a local Oxford newspaper, The Oxford Citizen, and began to write stories for them on a weekly basis.
Meanwhile, as the year progressed at school, we continued to encounter strong resistance from our staff adviser, who did not advocate strong freedom of the press and censored many of my stories on the grounds that they negatively portrayed our school district or community.
The leadership of The Charger helped the administration realize the limitations and rift that the adviser was causing. Gratefully, they brought in a new adviser at the start of my senior year. Interest in the paper immediately catapulted. Every copy of our first paper was gone by noon, and a new respect for The Charger by students and staff was born.
In August of 2016, I became editor-in-chief of The Charger and began my tenure editing and printing one of the hardest-hitting years of The Charger’s long history. We started with a news story that detailed the district’s plans to combat the growing achievement gap, which included the possibility of opening a separate school based on socioeconomic differences (recipients of free or reduced lunch). The story was picked up nationally, and I wrote spin-off stories in the hours, days, and weeks that followed.
Another highlight of this year was a feature that I wrote on a Holocaust survivor in Oxford who, for the first time ever, spoke about his harrowing experience. We have also written a feature on a public housing development that is being shut down and its painful effects on an Oxford student. We covered the state’s financial plans that could cost our district millions of dollars in an effort to "rebuild education in Mississippi."
I am currently working on an in-depth feature on prevalent homelessness in our town and the students that it affects at Oxford High School. We are also working on a news story that details sexual assault as a pressing issue at school.
As you can see, The Charger has not failed to cover any story, big or small, in my tenure as editor-in-chief, and I believe that my portfolio will demonstrate my strong skills in writing, editing, design and leadership.