Write-Off Contests

Each year at J-Day, MIPA gives students the opportunity to respond to the E.W. Tucker lecture through news writing, review, broadcast script, etc., and also offers photographers the opportunity to compete on-site while on the MU campus.

When hundreds of high school journalists come together at the Missouri School of Journalism for J-Day, an annual event sponsored by Missouri Interscholastic Press Association, they gather first in Jesse Hall to hear a message from the keynote speaker. What sets this opening speech apart from opening speeches at other events is that it serves as material for student journalists who are entered in a writing competition known as “write offs.” Each school that attends the annual event has the option of entering students in a variety of write off categories, including:

  • News Writing
  • Feature Writing
  • Review Writing
  • Opinion Writing
  • Social Media and Website Reporting
  • Broadcast Reporting
  • Editorial Cartooning
  • A Photojournalism shoot off is also available.

Courtesy of: www.audio-luci-store.it

Student journalists arrive, notepad and voice recorder in hand, and report the keynote address from the various angles. After the address, students who are not competing are dismissed to their break-out sessions, while those who compete get the opportunity to ask questions of the speaker to clarify their story. When the question session is complete, journalists are given one hour to compose a story or piece to present for judging.

A panel of judges reads and critiques the stories in each category. Each story is read and evaluated by two judges and codes are used in lieu of school and student names to prevent judging bias.

At the awards presentation in the afternoon, the top three winners in each category are recognized with a certificate for first, second, and third place. This competition closely follows the national model through Journalism Education Association.

All schools are encouraged to enter students in the write-off competition. Entries are made on-site at check in on J-Day; there are no limitations on numbers of students entered; there is no pre-registration required.

Tips for students and advisers who are participating in Write-Offs:

  1. Arrive early enough that your students can sit close up and be settled and ready to take notes from the speaker,
  2. Make sure students know what to expect – that they will be writing about the keynote speech, and that they have a pen, pencil, voice recorder (optional) and notepad,
  3. Encourage your students to ask questions during the question and answer session.
  4. Review with your students the fundamental differences between news, feature, review, and opinion writing.