JEA California

Journalism keeps you planted in the earth. —Ray Bradbury

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California’s 2017 Journalist of the Year: Meghan Bobrowsky, Davis Senior High School

A statewide panel has selected Meghan Bobrowsky, a senior at Davis Senior High School in Davis, as California’s Journalist of the Year.

Bobrowsky is social media and multimedia editor-in-chief of BlueDevilHUB, her school’s student-run news website (Kelly Wilkerson, adviser).

Four portfolios were submitted and the competition for the top spot was strong. Trisha Kholiya, a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, won 2nd place. Runners-up Hannah Xu of Granite Bay High School and Jacqueline Moore of Palo Alto High School also submitted excellent portfolios.

As did all contestants, Bobrowsky submitted personal materials, including three recommendations and a self-analytical essay, along with a digital portfolio showcasing work in 11 areas, from news gathering and editing to law, ethics and leadership.

Remarkably, Bobrowsky works for not one publication, but five. In addition to BlueDevilHub, Bobrowsky is a staff writer for The Hub, Davis High’s monthly newspaper; a paid staff writer for The Davis Enterprise, her local community newspaper; video and social media editor for Global Student Square, an international student journalism network; and an intern for iSeeDavis, a local video news website.

Bobrowsky’s portfolio included a wide range of content, from “Executive Disorder,” a news package on one one week in the life of the Davis community following President Trump’s Jan. 27 travel ban, to stories on sports, sanctuary cities, teacher salaries and students with autism. Judges were especially impressed with Bobrowsky’s multimedia work, including a 13-part video series called #MyGlobalStory in which Davis students told remarkably diverse family histories of immigration and assimilation.

Bobrowsky also led a team of students that reported on a hate crime at the Islamic Center of Davis in January in which windows were smashed and door handles to the mosque were wrapped in bacon.

Three weeks later, a former Davis student was arrested. Bobrowsky’s team covered the arraignment but also drew a portrait of the suspect using the police declaration of arrest and bail document plus interviews with Davis faculty and former students. Not surprisingly, the Davis Enterprise quoted from that story in its own coverage.

Judge Jan Ewell, a JEA Medal of Merit winner representing Southern California, praised Bobrowsky’s portfolio for its depth, heft and commitment.

“Her willingness to do the work — the sheer volume of her work — has allowed her to bring her skills to a professional level,” Ewell said. “She would have had her portfolio even if she had stopped on January 1. But she kept doing it.”

“The beat goes on,” agreed judge Don Bott (central California), adding that Bobrowsky’s work right up to the Feb. 19 submission deadline showed “currency.” He also cited Bobrowsky’s self-analytical essay for its thoughtfulness.

Runner-up Trisha Kholiya also received high commendation for her design and editorial leadership. Judge Betsy Snow (northern California) singled out Kholiya’s work on “Inside the Chat,” a story about cyberbullying. “They’re writing about something that nobody wants to talk about,” she said.

Similarly, Snow praised Hannah Xu’s illustrations for excellent control of artistic rendering,” while all three judges commended Jacqueline Moore’s superior self-analytical essay for its literary quality: “She handles language very well,” Ewell observed.

Judges also outlined some areas for improvement for next year’s JOY applicants, including making sure that recommendations are signed pdfs on letterhead paper; that photographs stress news value, include clear captions and avoid Instagram filters; and that personal essays connect journalism skills learned in class to college, career and beyond.

See all of the submitted portfolios at the links above and here on the California JEA website.

Ewell, Betsy Snow of Sequoia High School in Redwood City and Don Bott of A.A. Stagg High School in Stockton served as judges. State Director Beatrice Motamedi evaluated the portfolios for completeness and facilitated the judging process but recused herself this year as Bobrowsky is video editor for Motamedi’s Global Student Square network. Bobrowsky’s selection as JOY was unanimous.

As the northern California winner of the national JOY contest, Bobrowsky also will receive the $500 Arnetta Garcin Memorial Scholarship from JEANC.

Bobrowsky now moves to the national competition, with results to be announced at the JEA convention in Seattle April 6-9. Congratulations and good luck to our California JOY!

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