Newsletter: Summer 2015

NESPA hosts 67th annual conference

(For details on All-New England Awards, Special Achievement Awards and suggestions from judges, please download the PDF.)

Students and teachers from around the region attended 38 sessions the New England Scholastic Press Association’s 67th annual conference at Boston University’s College of Communication Friday, May 1.

The keynote speaker was Greg Marinovich, a Pulitzer Prize winner on the College of Communication faculty. Originally from South Africa, he emphasized that journalists need to have a strong commitment to finding and reporting the facts.
Among other session topics were online coverage, broadcast journalism, how news apps work, news writing, investigative reporting, yearbook ad sales, legal and ethical issues and the internet, what it’s like to study journalism in college, sports writing and editing, design, careers in public relations, photojournalism in the digital age, and how to choose work for literary magazines.

Speakers included College of Communication faculty, journalism professionals from the New England region, and high school advisers and staff members.

A teacher from Thayer Academy, Daniel Levinson, received the Robert Baram Award.

Along with the results of the All-New England and Special Achievement contests, the Board of Judges offered 67 suggestions on how staffs can improve their work.

Keynote speaker urges commitment

Professor Greg Marinovich described what made him decide to become a journalist and talked about some of the conflicts he has covered.

“You have to have a commitment beyond journalism,” Marinovich said. “Journalism gives you an excuse to investigate and start understanding other peoples’ views.”

His slide show, “The Dead Zone and South Africa’s Journey to Democracy,” included pictures that ranged from men with guns, machetes and spears to Nelson Mandela after his release from prison.

Marinovich is a Pulitzer Prize winner and former Nieman Fellow at Harvard. His photographs have appeared in TIME, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and The Guardian of London. His work also includes a book, The Bang-Bang Club, with a forward by Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa.

He has covered outbreaks in places including Bosnia, Chechnya, Siberia in addition to South Africa. Born in South Africa in 1962, he spoke about growing up “in a white bubble” under the apartheid system in South Africa. That system—a brutally harsh, racist dictatorship—officially began in 1948 but had its roots much earlier. In 1989 South Africa’s hard-line president, P.W. Botha, was forced out of office, and in 1990 Mandela was released from prison after 27 years.

During the early 1990s South Africa was the scene of brutal conflicts.

Marinovich said it was during those times that he decided to become involved, both as a citizen and as a storyteller.

“Now,” he said, “there is a terrible separation between rich and poor.” Looking back, he said that as a white person growing up, he started listening to reggae. He said he realized that Bob Marley was “singing about the oppression South Africa was all about.

“I have to thank reggae for my waking up. You didn’t see black people. It was a horrible life, and you didn’t see it unless you went looking for it. I discovered the reality I’d grown up with was unlike other peoples’ lives.”

Marinovich said his decision to become a journalist was gradual. He said he became politically active and started traveling to the townships, where black people lived in isolation and poverty. He said that at the end of the 1990s, a wave of violence orchestrated by white forces swept through black areas and that his own career began when he photographed a man being murdered.

“The injustice drove me,” Marinovich said, referring to the racism and violence in South Africa. “There were no other news sources. To find out what was going on, you had to be there. I couldn’t get clear facts and figures from autopsies or police reports. Nobody there published the story.”

But the Associated Press used his work and sent it around the world.

Marinovich said students today need to dig in and go to the source of news, whether they are covering drug and alcohol use, privilege, relationships and other matters of consequence.

“You must go to the place,” he said, referring to where news originates. “Then get on your feet and walk.”

At the beginning of his talk, Marinovich urged students in the audience to ask him questions. He said there would be a prize for the best one.

Courtney Grant, senior at Bonny Eagle High School in Standish, Maine asked the winning question: “I noticed that when you were playing the slide show, you weren’t looking at the screen or the audience. It looked as though you were listening to the music. Were you? What were the lyrics of the music?”

Marinovich presented her with a copy of his book, The Bang-Bang Club.

Daniel Levinson receives Baram Award

For his service to the region’s scholastic press, New England Scholastic Press Association presented a Robert Baram Award to Daniel Levinson. The criteria for the award are as follows: “With the Robert Baram Award, the NESPA honors a distinguished adviser from this region who has helped students raise their sights and their standards in the practice of school journalism. The award is named for Robert Baram, founder and for 46 years the executive director of the Association. Consideration for the award is based on an adviser’s contributions to the cause of ethical, thorough and articulate scholastic journalism in the adviser’s school and community; and support for school journalists in all facets of their efforts to present credible and useful material to their audience.”

Excerpts from Daniel Levinson’s citation:

“Through Mr. Levinson’s dedication, loyalty, tact and hard work, he has given exemplary support to helping students raise their sights and their standards in the practice of school journalism. He has done so year after year, conference after conference, meeting after meeting, deadline after deadline for the past 21 years.”

“Mr. Levinson went to Horace Mann High School in Gary, Ind. He worked on the school’s newspaper, The Manuscript, for three years while taking the school’s journalism course. He became editor in chief his senior year. He graduated in 1971 from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and earned a master’s in philosophy from the New School for Social Research in 1974.”

“Having moved to Greater Boston, Mr. Levinson became circulation manager and did reporting and sports columns along with theatre reviews for The Newton Times, a local weekly. Along with theatre reviews for the Boston Phoenix, he did a cover story on high school gymnastics for the Boston Herald Sunday Magazine.

“Mr. Levinson joined the faculty of Thayer Academy in Braintree in the 1977-78 academic year to teach English, history and journalism. He advised Thayer’s newspaper, The Tiger’s Eye, for 20 years, and —so far—he has advised Voice as a school magazine for 18. He said the staff uses The New Yorker as its model.

“A board member since 1995, Mr. Levinson’s behind the scenes work has been crucial to NESPA’s efforts to support scholastic journalists in their efforts to present credible, useful material to their audiences. A few examples of his contributions: At each conference, he keeps track of the cash flow. He keeps records of pre- and on-site registration, speakers’ arrivals, and parking.”

“He always gives presentations and always stays to help clean up.”

“Along with the conference, at other times during the year, Mr. Levinson has attended every board meeting since 1995, judged Special Achievement entries every year, and served as treasurer, helping with forms and documents—again, every single year.

“Mr. Levinson’s quiet, effective, supportive work is one of the main reasons students and teachers can learn so much when they participate in NESPA activities.”

For details on All-New England Awards, Special Achievement Awards and suggestions from judges, please download the PDF.