April 14 Deadline to Enter 2017 High School Student Journalist of the Year Competition!

Calling all high school journalists in Northern Illinois!

Know any high school seniors who have done outstanding work in the past year on a student newspaper, as a freelancer for a professional publication or as a contributor to a high school yearbook or literary magazine?

The Northern Illinois Newspaper Association, a professional organization with member newspapers throughout the region, is seeking the best and brightest students in the region to compete for the title of 2017 Northern Illinois High School Journalist of the Year.

The winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship, the endorsement of the professional organization, a presentation at your home school and a title that will stand out on any resume or college application. The announcement of the winning student will be distributed via news release to all NINA member publications and will appear on the NINA website and in the NINA newsletter.

The second-place winner will receive a $500 scholarship along with the accolades that go with the title.

The competition is open to graduating high school seniors who plan to continue their journalism education at the college level.

All entries must be postmarked no later than Friday, April 14. Competitors are asked to send entries to The Northern Illinois Newspaper Association, c/o John Etheredge, Record Newspapers, 109 W. Veterans Parkway, Yorkville, IL 60560.

Eligibility requirements and other criteria are listed below and available by clicking this link.

The scholarship competition entry form is available by clicking here.

The NINA Board of Directors is asking high school principals, student advisers and guidance counselors throughout Northern Illinois to help spread the word about this vital and prestigious award opportunity.

NINA maintains this scholarship fund to encourage high school students to continue to study journalism and to promote journalism careers.

NINA past president and Kendall County Record Newspapers Editor John Etheredge says that in days when “fake news” and social media snarkiness are almost ubiquitous, it’s more important than ever to support young people who are committed to professional journalism.

“As a professional organization dedicated to advancing print and online journalism education and training in Northern Illinois, we are excited at the prospect of awarding this scholarship to a student who shows promise for a career in our profession,” he said. “As always, welcome comments and suggestions about the scholarship program and how we can work together to advance journalism education at the high school level.”

2017 scholarship rules


Northern Illinois High School Journalism Scholarship recognizes outstanding achievement by high school students in print and/or online journalism.


A winner will receive a cash scholarship from the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association, a plaque and an announcement of the award in the NINA online newsletter. Arrangements will be made for a formal presentation of the scholarship award and plaque.


The scholarship award will be presented to a high school senior who demonstrates the standards of honesty, integrity, attention to detail, hard work, creativity and an understanding and commitment to quality community journalism.

The successful candidate may be an editor, writer, photographer, manager, marketing or advertising representative or graphic designer at a high school newspaper and/or website, or a professional news publication, either print or online.

All applicants should show an intent to attend college as a journalism or communications major with an emphasis on print and/or online journalism.

Students must attend high school within the Northern Illinois region. The primary counties include Boone, Bureau, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Henry, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, Marshall, McHenry, Mercer, Ogle, Putnam, Rock Island, Stephenson, Whiteside, Will and Winnebago.

Selection criteria

Applicants must submit a copy of their high school transcripts, which must include grade-point average.

They also must submit:

  • A letter of recommendation from a high school counselor, newspaper adviser or professional supervisor. Additional letters of recommendation are welcome.
  • A portfolio of published newspaper work. Examples include articles, display or classified advertisements, photographs or photo pages, page layouts or full copies of a newspaper showing the student’s contribution to the overall product.
  • An autobiographical essay that includes a description of career goals.
  • A completed nomination form (next page).


Applications must be postmarked by the April 14 deadline, which was extended from March 17. Send to: Northern Illinois Newspaper Association, c/o John Etheredge, Record Newspapers, 109 W. Veterans Parkway, Yorkville, IL 60560


All applications will be judged by members of the NINA board of directors. The scholarship winner will be notified in April.

2017 scholarship entry form

Nomination Form

Nominee: ________________________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________________

(street, city, state, ZIP)

Email: ________________________________________________________

High school: _______________________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________________

Nomination submitted by: ____________________________________________________

Title: ________________________________________________________

Telephone number (day): ___________________________________________________

Email: ________________________________________________________________

List all materials submitted with this entry:




How did you learn about this opportunity? ________________________________________

Send entries to:

Northern Illinois Newspaper Association
c/o John Etheredge
Record Newspapers
109 W. Veterans Parkway
Yorkville, IL 60560

Deadline extended: April 14, 2017

About the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association

NINA-logo1NINA was founded by Northern Illinois University journalism faculty and newspaper editors and publishers throughout the Northern Illinois region. Its present board consists of some of the top online and print publications in Illinois and the United States, including but not limited to the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, Shaw Media, The Register-Mail, Galesburg, The Times, Ottawa, The Dispatch / The Rock Island Argus, The Hinsdalean, Rockford Register Star, The Observer, Rockford Diocese, the Northern Star and The Galena Gazette.

Membership is open to print and digital publication professionals, freelancers, educators, students and others working in or supporting professional journalism in northern Illinois. For more information, visit the NINA website or Facebook page.


Southtown Star’s Matt Marton wins top prize

Matt Marton (right) chats w

ith Kane County Chronicle editor Kathy Gresey and State Rep. Bob Pritchard after Thursday’s NINA awards banquet at NIU.

Matt Marton, a photographer for the Southtown Star, has won NINA’s Excellence in Journalism Award and the accompanying $1,000 prize for his work on the series, “Haiti: Two Years Later.”

The award was presented Thursday night at NINA’s 50th Anniversary Fall Conference, at the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center. The Excellence in Journalism competition invited journalists to submit their best piece of work, published between May 1, 2011, and April 30, 2012.

Here are judges’ remarks about Marton’s work:

In February 2012, the Southtown Star send photographer Matt Marton and reporter Donna Vickroy to Haiti. “We wanted to find out where cargo containers full of shoes, bicycles, medical supplies and musical instruments, donated by our readers, ended up,” Marton wrote. “In following the trail of compassion, we hoped to form a bridge, built on communication and understanding, from here to Haiti.”

Marton’s stunning series of photos didn’t just follow that trail of compassion. It stirred it anew in readers. It’s difficult to imagine any reader being confronted with these photos and not feeling changed. This series – both the photos and the words – shines the light of truth and compassion on the people of Haiti, for the benefit of an audience who may have given money, time and/or prayer for them. It’s a sterling example of the type of journalism that newspapers still must find a way to produce – despite budget crunches and staff shortages.

Not insignificant is that this series comes from a newspaper whose newsroom has been gutted by layoffs in recent years. Yet, the Southtown Star saw an opportunity to connect local efforts to an international story that’s fallen from the public eye but is every bit as urgent as it was two years ago. The paper made a significant investment to send these two journalists to Haiti for five days. The journalists stepped into harm’s way at times, witnessed the horror of extreme poverty, and also chronicled hope for better days.

Vickroy’s heroic series of stories was a runner-up, and ordinarily could have won a competition like this. But in this case, judges felt that Marton’s Pulitzer-quality photos were so compelling that they merited singular attention.

Thank you to the Southtown Star for seeing the value and importance of this story. Congratulations to Matt Marton, and thank you for the reminder of why most of us became journalists – to tell stories like this, and to make a difference in the world.

See this series at the Southtown Star website

Matt Marton’s blog

The NINA Excellence in Journalism Award

As part of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association’s 50th anniversary celebration, we’re announcing the NINA Excellence in Journalism Award. The award carries a $1,000 cash prize.

Contests don’t get any simpler than this:

  1. Pick your best piece of work from the past year: story, series, project, photography, online work … whatever.
  2. Write a short

    letter – or have someone else write it – stating why this exemplifies the best in journalism.

  3. Download, print and fill out the Excellence in Journalism Entry Form
  4. Mail it all to us, in whatever form you think best represents the work: tearsheet, CD or URL.

The contest is free to enter and is open to any journalist, as long as your work was published by a news organization in northern Illinois, between May 1, 2011 and April 30, 2012. NINA membership is not required. One entry per person.

Send entries to:

NINA Excellence in Journalism Contest
c/o Maria Krull, Northern Star
Campus Life Building, Suite 130
DeKalb, IL 60115

This contest, sponsored by NINA and the Northern Illinois University Department of Communication, is separate from the annual NINA contest. Entries will be judged by a panel of judges at NIU. All entries must be received by July 31, 2012.

The winner will be announced Thursday evening, Oct. 18, at NINA’s 50th Anniversary Fall Conference.

2012 NINA contest announced

We are pleased to announce NINA’s 2012 newspaper competition and invite your participation.  All materials will be mailed in the next few days, but they are available online now:

Contest Rules and Categories

2012 Entry Form

Please (1) read all rules carefully; (2) make certain your NINA membership is current and that you are entering in the appropriate division and entry categories; (3) fill out a form for each entry; (5) staple an entry form to the tearsheet for each entry; and (6) be

sure your entries are postmarked no later than Monday, July 2, 2012.

As part of NINA’s 50th anniversary celebration this year, we’re sponsoring an additional, special competition: The NINA Excellence in Journalism Award. It’s open to all journalists working in northern Illinois, and offers a $1,000 cash prize to the winner. Details soon in a separate post.

Finally, don’t forget to mark your calendars now for the annual NINA fall conference and awards ceremony scheduled for Thursday evening, Oct 18, 2012, at Northern Illinois University. This year marks NINA’s 50th anniversary celebration, and we’re planning a special evening. We look forward to seeing you there.

Good luck in the contest!

Call for nominations: Illinois Journalist of the Year

NIU seeks nominations for the 2012 Illinois Journalist of the Year. You can nominate someone online HERE.

The award is presented annually by the Department of Communication of Northern Illinois University to a person who has made a significant contribution to the mass media or, through them, to the public they serve, either as a result of a single accomplishment during the past year, or through a sustained effort over a longer period of time.

Any journalist employed by an Illinois mass medium, or an Illinois resident associated with a national medium serving the people of Illinois, is eligible to receive the award.

A panel of judges consisting of the chair of the Department of Communication, members of its faculty, and student presidents of appropriate journalism organizations at NIU will consider all nominations and choose the award winner.

Nomination deadline is March 29, 2012. The award will be presented at NIU’s 2012 Journalism Banquet in April.  A scholarship also will be presented in the recipient’s name to a deserving journalism student.


Past winners:

Mike Royko, 1972, Chicago Daily News
Clayton Kirkpatrick, 1973, Chicago Tribune
Walter Jacobson, 1974, WBBM-TV, Chicago
Ralph Otwell, 1975, Chicago Sun-Times
Karl Monroe, 1976, Collinsville Herald
Lois Wille, 1977, Chicago Daily News
Roger Hedges, 1978, Gannett News Service
Pamela Zekman, 1979, Chicago Sun-Times
Bill Kurtis, 1980, WBBM-TV, Chicago
John Whiteside, 1981, Joliet Herald-News
Anne Cusack, 1982, Chicago Tribune
John H. Johnson, 1983, Johnson Publishing
Gary Watson, 1984, Rockford Register Star
Marx Gibson, 1985, Kankakee Daily Journal
William O’Connell, 1986, Peoria Journal Star
John Callaway, 1987, WTTW, Chicago
Carol Marin, 1988, WMAQ-TV, Chicago
Dan Miller, 1989, Crain Communications
Reynold Hertel, 1990, Joliet Herald-News
Clarence Page, 1991, Chicago Tribune
Colleen Dishon, 1992, Chicago Tribune
Paul Hogan, 1993, WMAQ-TV, Chicago
John Hultman, 1994, WBBM-AM, Chicago
Bob Greene, 1995, Chicago Tribune
Jack Higgins, 1996, Chicago Sun-Times
William Shaw, 1997, The Telegraph, Dixon
Phil Ponce, 1998, Chicago Tonight, Channel 11
Linda Grist Cunningham, 1999, Rockford Register Star
Doug Ray, 2000, Daily Herald
Ken Armstrong and Steve Mills, 2001, Chicago Tribune
John Drury, 2002, WLS-TV, Chicago
Chuck Goudie, 2003, WLS-TV, Chicago
Tim Novak and Steve Warmbir, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times
Jonathan K. Whitney, 2005, Carroll County Review
John Foreman, 2006, The News Gazette, Champaign
Olga Gize Carlisle, 2007, The Journal Standard, Freeport
Scott Strazzante, 2008, Chicago Tribune
Bob Frisk, 2009, Daily Herald
Jodi S. Cohen, 2010, Chicago Tribune
Ben Joravsky, 2011, Chicago Reader