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North Carolina Journalist of the Year

Each year the Student Journalist of the Year is selected from among the graduating seniors in scholastic journalism programs across the state. Entrants are evaluated by journalism professionals and faculty.

The winner receives the $3,000 Rachel Rivers-Coffey Scholarship from the N.C. Press Foundation and is eligible to submit a portfolio to compete for scholarships in the national Journalism Education Association High School Journalist of the Year contest.

Three alternates in the North Carolina contest will each receive $1,000 scholarships from the N.C. Press Foundation.

High school seniors who have been involved with journalism for at least two years and have at least a 3.0 unweighted GPA are eligible to apply. Applicants must submit a portfolio as well as an entry form, transcript, self evaluation of one’s “journalistic life” and letters of recommendation.

Students can submit their portfolio in one of three ways:

  • PDF format – Students may submit their portfolio materials as a PDF, or PDFs, emailed to with the subject line “NC JOY.” You may use the templates on the right for this option.
  • Notebook – Students may compile their application materials into a notebook (typically a binder), with samples of their work printed out and included in the notebook.
  • Online portfolio – Students may use a free web hosting service, such as weebly or WordPress, to compile their application materials. The online portfolio should include samples of the student’s work, as well as the entry material (application, essay, and personal photo). Letters of recommendation and transcripts may be mailed to the NCSMA office.

Submissions must include work from at least 5 of the following categories:

  • Design— Samples of published work that shows a basic understanding of design elements.
  • Editing— Mastery of AP and specific publication style, identifies strengths/weaknesses in own and others’ work.
  • Entrepreneurship— Demonstrate knowledge of the media business.
  • Law & Ethics— Knowledge about law by avoiding unprotected speech; ability to deal with ethical dilemmas; reveals the reasoning behind his or her work.
  • Leadership & Team Building
  • Multimedia broadcast— Samples demonstrate unique storytelling moments, high quality photographs, effective cutlines/captions.
  • News Gathering— Shows evidence of background research, knowledge of formulating and asking well-informed questions and use of credible sources and research.
  • News Literacy— Demonstrate ability to assess and improve the credibility of a news story by using knowledgeable sources.
  • Photojournalism
  • Web— Samples reflect ability to execute and plan timely news coverage.
  • Writing— Demonstrate ability to analyze, evaluate and synthesize information from diverse sources to produce content for a variety of media.

Email a PDF version or your complete portfolio or a link to your online portfolio to or mail your materials to the NCSMA office. We encourage you to submit your letters of recommendation and transcripts in January. All materials must be received by Feb. 15. Questions? Contact the NCSMA office at or 1-888-562-6276.


Writing Sample Form

Design Sample Form