The Todd C. Smith Journalist of the Year contest is going digital. The Journalism Education Association has significantly revised its portfolio process for the national Student Journalist of the Year Competition. Since our state winner advances to the national competition, our criteria has changed as well.

In an effort to make this a smooth transition, JEA has created an online toolbox. Advisers should give the links to eligible candidates. Part of the process is to see what candidates will do to market themselves. This should be the student’s project; however, advisers may guide them however much or as little as they see fit.

In addition to the online entry requirement, work examples need to be organized differently than how it has been done in the past. The toolbox site will address these portfolio-building changes for eligible contestants. Advisers and students should visit the websites below to familiarize themselves with the new criteria.


Check out our Workshops page for more information.

2014 schedule

(See also: What district am I in?)
District 1
Date: Friday, Oct. 24
Location: PSC South Campus in Gulf Breeze
District 2
Date: Saturday, Oct. 4
Location: Weimer Hall, College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida, Gainesville
District 3
Date: Saturday, Nov. 1
Location: University of Central Florida, Orlando
Districts 4 & 5 Combined Workshop
Date: Monday, Oct. 6
Location: Marshall Student Center, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Online Registration is now live
Pre-submitted contests were due Sept. 26. Results will be announced at the workshop closing ceremony.
District 6
Date: Saturday, Oct. 25
Location: Florida International University, South Campus, Miami, FL
Pre-submitted contests can be uploaded through Oct. 1. Click here to view the category descriptions. Entry instructions will be provided to registered publications.
District 7
Date: Saturday, Nov. 1
Location: Deerfield Beach High School, FL.
Pre-submitted contests can be uploaded through Oct. 8. Click here to view the category descriptions. Entry instructions will be provided to registered publications.
Contact the district directors for more information.


Thanks to all who submitted their publications to FSPA for evaluation. Judges reviewed 77 yearbooks and 14 literary magazines this summer. Results have been returned to advisers via email; certificates will be mailed in late August. Contact Joe Humphrey at fspacontests (at) gmail.com with questions.


A reminder that we award $500 scholarships to Florida high school publications advisers who are FSPA members to further their education, typically over the summer. What could you do with that cash?

  • Tuition for one of Poynter’s in-person seminars, where you can learn all the new tricks of the new media technologies — plus a few old, classic skills revisited.
  • Pay for your travel costs out to one of the Reynolds HSJ Institute gatherings.
  • JEA’s Adviser Institute, which will be held in Las Vegas.
  • And so much more…

To apply for either the Julie E. Dodd Scholarship or the Webb-Stapler scholarship, please visit our Awards & Scholarship page.

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Congratulations to these publications, which were honored as All-Florida winners at the

banquet on Friday, April 25.

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Congratulations to the 2014 Spring Digital Contest Best of the Best winners. These were announced at the 2014 state convention. FSPA plans to publish links to all All-Florida winners this summer, including these winners.


Sara Ganim Selfie

During Friday night’s banquet, FSPA 2014 keynote speaker and CNN correspondent Sara Ganim took to the stage to discuss challenges young journalists face, her career and her 2012 Pulitzer Prize win.

But first, she stopped to take a selfie.

The small act of snapping a photo of herself illustrated the main points of her speech: Not long ago, Ganim was in the audience’s shoes. She was 15 when she began reporting for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and at 26, she’s one of the youngest CNN correspondents.

“Just know that where you sit right now,” she said, “you have so very much ahead of you.”

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Photo credit: Kevin Stephens / FSPA Photo credit: Kevin Stephens / FSPA

Randy Serrano, a political reporter for NBC Universal Telemundo, greeted a packed ballroom of 1,200 students at FSPA 2014’s opening ceremony on Thursday night.

Serrano is a White House and Capitol Hill correspondent. He’s also covered foreign politics, including conflict between Israeli forces and Hezbollah on the Lebanese-Israeli border, the Holy See in Rome and the aftermath of the earthquake in L’Aquila.

He talked about his early days as a journalist, from attending FSPA conventions in high school to working an entry-level position editing tape.

“Never forget to shake hands, meet people, say thank you, [and] say hello,” he said.

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Here is your OTS Contest Breakdown, including where to go and what you need to know.

Advisers, you will provide a list of all students participating in each contest at Registration Window A using the OTS Contest Check-In Worksheet. Student names not received by the start of the contest will be disqualified. Please be sure to write legibly as this form is used for contest certificate printing purposes.

Want to know how you’ll be scored?

Any OTS-related questions should be directed to colleen.bennett@ocps.net.