Urban Legend wins honors at National Scholastic Press Association journalism convention

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Cub reporters Jonathan Baer, Jamie Friedman, Annakai Geshlider, Cody Siler and Jessie King Fredel accept third place for Web site in the NSPA’s Best in Show competition. The award was one of three won by the Legend at the convention, which closes on Sunday.

the Legend staff

The Urban Legend won awards for both newspaper and Web site at the National Scholastic Press Association spring high school journalism convention in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday.

The Legend won third place among small schools for its Web site. It also won sixth place for newspapers of 9 to 12 pages.

Also at the convention, the Legend’s Editor in Chief Adrienne von Schulthess was awarded the 2011 Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership. The $1,000 scholarship honors “exemplary editorial writing,” and is named in honor of Wally Wikoff, a former NSPA executive director. Von Schulthess was selected out of 66 entrants.

Von Schulthess was not able to attend the convention, so Legend staffers Jonathan Baer, Jamie Friedman, Jessie King Fredel, Annakai Geshilder and Cody Siler accepted the award on her behalf.

“I was impressed with the level of research and context she used to frame her opinions, and with her ability to localize and personalize issues of national significance,” wrote the judge who selected von Schulthess as the scholarship winner.

“I thought an anecdote her adviser included chronicling how Adrienne rewrote part of a lengthy editorial on deadline was quite telling: Adrienne did a piece on the closing of Guantanamo Bay. Just before press time, President Obama gave an unexpected statement that impacted the column,” the judge wrote.

“A lot of things are done and redone on deadline in a newsroom, but generally not opinion columns! (Adrienne) obviously understands her role as a public servant. And she is committed to having a healthy dialogue with her peers about the important issues of the day through her writing.”

Annakai Geshlider, assistant managing editor, echoed the judge’s comments.

“Adrienne is straightforward and clear. She is efficient and on top of her work. This makes me also enjoy journalism because it makes me want to work as smoothly as she does,” said Geshlider.

Beatrice Motamedi, adviser to the Legend, said that von Schulthess’ honor was fully earned.

“Adrienne has shown exemplary leadership in our newsroom as well as in her writing on national topics,” Motamedi said. “Whatever debate she joins — from what to do about Guantanamo Bay to how to treat undocumented immigrant teens in San Francisco — benefits from her intelligence, good sense and natural kindness. I’m delighted to see Adrienne win this scholarship.”

The Best in Show awards honor excellence among schools participating in the NSPA conventions. According to NSPA Executive Director Logan Aimone, this year’s spring convention, which began Thursday and ends Sunday, is believed to have the highest attendance ever, with more than 5,000 students participating. Before announcing the awards, Aimone cautioned the packed audience that the competition this year had been intense.

The Legend newspaper is headed by editors in chief Schulthess (’11) and Zoe Pleasure (’12). Sabrina Werby (’12) is managing editor/newspaper and special projects. The Web site is headed by Hannah Gorman (’12), managing editor/multimedia and Emily Wen (’12), assistant managing editor.

Also at the convention, seven Legend staffers were elected to the NSPA Honor Roll of student journalists. All are juniors who have maintained a grade point average of at least 3.75 on a four-point scale and were recommended by Motamedi. The students are: Sonja Bartlett, Cassiel Chadwick, Jason Cinti, Hannah Gorman, Zoe Pleasure, Jenna Waldman and Sabrina Werby.

In late news, the Journalism Education Association announced that sophomore Jonathan Baer won an “excellent” in the newswriting write-off competition. Entrants listened to a 30-minute presentation on so-called “parent trigger” laws, which allow parents to seek changes in low-performing schools. After a 15-minute question-and-answer period, students then had one hour to write a story of at least 350 words in Associated Press style.