Mountain Vista senior named national student Journalist of the Year
HIGHLANDS RANCH – The student-journalists at Mountain Vista High School cover a lot stories, but this week the breaking news focused on one of their own. On Sunday, the school’s Co-Editor-In-Chief, Taylor Blatchford, was named the Journalism Education Association’s (JEA) National Journalist of the Year.
Blatchford was one of 33 students selected to represent their states at the JEA/ National Student Press Association (NSPA) convention, which was recently held in San Diego.
On Sunday morning, the students and their advisors gathered in a large ballroom for an award ceremony. Blatchford’s nervousness grew during the presentation of the Journalist of the Year award as the runners up were announced, but her name wasn’t among them. Then, everything changed. She had won the top award.
“I would have been completely happy to have just won the Colorado honor, but it was pretty exciting,” Blatchford said.
Candidates are judged on a portfolio of their best work samples, letters of recommendations and essays. Blatchford says her online portfolio was diverse, including examples of her writing, photography, design and examples of multi-media journalism.
The variety of her work parallels the experience she has gained at Mountain Vista, and the reality the students will face in the news industry after school. Like professional journalists, the students now provide their reporting in multiple mediums. Under the guidance of their adviser and recent Apple Award winner, Mark Newton, the teens are expected to write copy for the newspaper, produce video for the school’s television station and support the yearbook.
“Mr. Newton has built our program in a way to make us really successful for the future for those who want to go into journalism and those who don’t. We’ll have a variety of skills and be prepared to cover different situations,” Blatchford explained. “His mantra that he always tells us is to be good at everything and be great at something.”
Blatchford says being a student journalist is unlike anything else in school. In addition to having the freedom to choose their stories, she likes the ability to share her work with the entire school.
“What you produce is out there for the whole school and the whole community to see, as opposed to writing an essay or work for other classes, where no matter how great it is, the teacher is the only one who sees it. We get an opportunity for our whole student body and community to read our work, which is pretty special,” Blatchford said.
After graduating this May, Blatchford plans to study journalism at the University of Missouri—the world’s oldest journalism school.
She doesn’t know what a job in journalism might look like in four more years, but she is excited about the possibilities.
“It’s a little sad to think that I might never get to write for a newspaper, but it is also so exciting to see the new tools that are being developed,” explained Blatchford. “The different ways of digital storytelling that are forming every day will provide different ways for us to tell stories in ways that haven’t been done before.”
She believes that journalism will live on. Her thoughts on that subject were recently published in the Huffington Post.
While the JEA Journalist of the Year Award is inscribed with only her name, Blatchford says she shares the honor with the rest of the Mountain Vista journalism staff, including her co-editors and mentors.
“Even though it is my award, it is all thanks to them. I couldn’t have done it by myself,” Blatchford said. “I could have never put together the work that I did without their support.”