For Students

North Carolina Journalist of the Year

Each year the Student Journalist of the Year is selected from among the top graduating seniors in scholastic journalism programs across the state. Entrants are evaluated by journalism professionals and UNC-CH School of Media and Journalism professors.

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:

  • News Gathering— Shows evidence of background research, knowledge of formulating and asking well-informed questions and use of credible sources and research.
  • Writing— Demonstrate ability to analyze, evaluate and synthesize information from diverse sources to produce content for a variety of media.
  • Editing— Mastery of AP and specific publication style, identifies strengths/weaknesses in own and others’ work.
  • Design— Samples of published work that shows a basic understanding of design elements
  • Multimedia broadcast— Samples demonstrate unique storytelling moments, high quality photographs, effective cutlines/captions
  • Web— Samples reflect ability to execute and plan timely news coverage
  • 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
  • News Literacy— Demonstrate ability to assess and improve the credibility of a news story by using knowledgeable sources
  • Entrepreneurship— Demonstrate knowledge of the media business.

Email a PDF version or your complete portfolio or a link to your online portfolio to or mail your materials to the NCSMA office. All materials must be received by Feb. 15. Questions? Contact the NCSMA office at or 1-888-562-6276.

Quill and Scroll Scholarship

The Quill and Scroll offers one scholarship to all Quill & Scroll high school senior journalists who plan to study journalism in college. The scholarship can be used at any university that offers a major in journalism.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Scholastic’s coveted Art & Writing Awards include categories in journalism, poetry and other forms of creative writing. High school students can either submit one writing piece or a full portfolio for consideration. Top high school senior medalists are eligible to receive scholarships through partnerships with different colleges and universities.

Richard G. Zimmerman Journalism Scholarship

This scholarship offers $5,000 to one high school senior each year. The scholarship is a national competition funded by The National Press Club.

Scholarship for Journalism Diversity

The National Press Club awards one scholarship worth $10,000 over four years to a high school student aspiring to be a journalist who who would bring diversity into the field of journalism.

Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference

The Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference focuses on the role the First Amendment has in democracy and aims to inspire high school students to pursue journalism careers. The program will select 51 high school students who plan on pursuing a career in journalism to participate in an all-expense-paid journalism training conference at the Newseum. Those who successfully complete the five-day workshop will be awarded $1,000 scholarships. High school juniors are welcome to apply.

Student Press Law Center Top Ten List

The Student Press Law Center compiled a list of the top ten questions they receive from high school students. Before calling them with your questions, be sure to check out this list.

NSPA Scholarships

The National Scholastic Press Association provides links to contests and scholarships for high school journalists. The Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership is a $1,000 scholarship; applicants must submit three published editorials. The Courage in Student Journalism is given to a journalist who has shown determination, despite difficulty, in exercising their First  Amendment press rights.

SIPA Scholarships

The Southern Interscholastic Press Association is based out of the University of South Caroina and holds an annual conference for high school journalists. They offer six different scholarships for high school journalists.

Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

The Family Travel Forum Teen Travel Writing Scholarship honors outstanding travel blogs written by high school students. Cash scholarships awarded to the top three entries and 25 travel prizes given to honorable mentions.

JEA Diversity Award

Honors a scholastic journalism teacher, student media adviser or scholastic journalism group that demonstrates a commitment to cultural awareness and encourages a multicultural approach.

JEA First Amendment Press Freedom Award

Awarded to a school whose student media actively supports and honors the First Amendment.

JEA Student Journalist Impact Award

Recognizes a secondary school student (or team of students) who has made a significant difference in his/her life through the study and practice of journalism.