Added to the newspaper staff's numerous awards earned during the 2001-2002 school year are three additional honors. Two Silver Chips alumni won two Hemingway awards. Five other staff members won the highest honors in the Children's Hospital Health Writing contest. A present staff member also won third place in the Society of Professional Journalists "Freedom of the Press High School Essay Contest."
Julia Kay and Liam Bowen were each finalists in the Hemingway awards, honored as two of the top four writers in the country for their respective categories: Kay for news writing and Bowen for sports writing. The Hemingway awards, which judge student writing from across the country, are very high honors and are only given to "outstanding" student journalists who are experts in their journalistic fields. Sponsored by the Kansas City Star, which Ernest Hemingway wrote for in 1917, the contest was founded to "encourage, recognize and reward the same king of outstanding writing among young journalists of today" (read the contest's website).
Silver Chips won the Children's National Medical Center's 15th Annual Student Journalists' Health Writing Contest for the fifteenth year in a row. Matthew Yalowitz won the $100 first place "Mathwin Award" for his Silver Chips Online article, Providing Others with a Chance to Live. The "Mathwin Award" was dedicated to Silver Chips sponsor, John Mathwin, last year for the publication's achievement of winning the contest every year that it has been held.
The second and third place winners, as well as two honorable mentions, were also won by Silver Chips staff. Nora Berenstain tied for the $50 second place award with Jess Turner of McLean High School (Virginia) for her article, Love Hurts? It Doesn't Have To. Editor-in-chief Jessica Stamler tied for third place with Brian Robinson and Lisa Baron from Walt Whitman high school for her article, The Sad Side of the Happy Meal. Gabriel Morden-Snipper and Shannon Sanders both won two of the four honorable mentions for their respective stories, Dream Pill Could Be Drug Nightmare and "Distorted Body Image Consumes Teen Girls." Students from Walt Whitman and Paint Branch high schools won the other two honorable mentions. Silver Chips received $250 for the publication while the publications at Walt Whitman and Paint Branch high schools got $50 each.
As a third place 2002 Society of Professional Journalists National Essay Winner, page editor Eddie Chan won a $300 scholarship. He submited an original essay of 300 to 500 words titled "What a Free Media Means to America," available below. According to The Society of Professional Journalists website concerning the winners, the purpose of the contest is to "increase high school students' knowledge and understanding of the importance of the First Amendment to American life."
First place winner Jonathan Ross Kaplan, a junior at Nova High School in Davie, Florida, received a $1,000 scholarship. Second place winner Emily Quanbesk, a junior at Charlottesville High School, received a $500 scholarship. Copies of the winning essays can be found at the Society of Professional Journalists website.
Edward Chan's essay is reprinted below.
Every year since 1997, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has commemorated May 3, World Press Freedom Day, by awarding a journalist with the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The five people who have received the award so far did what all journalists are supposed to do: seek the truth and report it to the people. But these five also had to brave oppressive regimes who sought to preclude them from reporting freely to the public. In return for fulfilling their duties as journalists, they were imprisoned by their own countries.
So what does a free media mean to America? Ask what a non-free media would mean to America. The answer lies above.
Oppressive regimes around the world remain oppressive because they silence those journalists who inform and give voices to the public. Our founding fathers guaranteed us the right to a free press to provide a check against the government in case it did become oppressive. Without such a check, we would eventually become no different from other tyrannical regimes. Even a small infringement on the press' freedom by oar government could lead to more drastic violations later. What would stop the government from shutting down newspapers for reporting the "wrong" news? What would stop the government from jailing its own journalists? What would stop America from becoming the host country of the next recipient of the World Press Freedom Prize?
America is the nation it is because of its free media; our rights to report and learn the truth and to voice our opinions allow us to truly be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Democracy allows for free press, and free press informs and empowers the members La the democracy; the two go hand in hand. For America to maintain one, it needs the other.
As Americans, we are fortunate to have a free media. Yet we are in constant danger of losing this freedom if we are not careful. The government and even the media corporations themselves threaten to constrict and/or bias the flow of news.
As Americans, we must cherish and preserve the freedom of our press. We must serve as an example to the rest of the world, showing others how important a free media is to true democracy. We must ensure that, unlike other unfortunate people around the world, we should never have to celebrate World Press Freedom Day.
Annie Peirce. Annie Peirce is a senior in the Communications Arts Program and the public relations manager for Silver Chips. She is also an opinions editor for Silver Chips Online. She was born on October 25, 1984, in a hospital somewhere in Prince George's County; but doesn't … More »