Reporting competition on systemic change

NSPA announces new scholastic journalism competition 
for coverage on long-term solutions to challenges

A new reporting competition for student journalists will recognize their coverage of systemic change — how local challenges are met with long-term solutions.

The Fred Ross Systemic Change Student Journalism Competition will honor student journalism that focuses on how a community member or organization is addressing a challenge in a systemic, holistic way, rather than applying a short-term fix. 

Part of National Scholastic Press Association’s national awards competition, the new competition is sponsored and underwritten by the Foundation for Systemic Change.

The competition has no limits on subjects — from addressing racial and economic inequities to combating climate change to enhancing and expanding inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community. Coverage may be across platforms, including text, images, video, audio and video.

Individual entries may come from reporting teams of up to five student journalists, and the competition will offer cash prizes for first-, second- and third-place entries.

This new competition will launch during this 2022-23 academic year, with entries due to be submitted June 2023, in conjunction with NSPA’s Individual Awards competition. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 2-5, 2023, in Boston.

The competition is named for Fred Ross, the renowned advocate and organizer who trained and mentored leaders like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta to become iconic grassroots organizers.  

John Heffernan

John Heffernan, co-founder of the Foundation for Systemic Change, said young journalists and their reporting play a vital role in our future.

“There are no quick fixes to our long-term challenges,” said Heffernan, who has dedicated four decades to advancing human rights in some of the world’s most challenging places. “Unless you employ a systemic, long term approach, it’s a bit like ‘wack-a-mole.’”

Ross, the competition’s namesake, dedicated his life to organizing working men and women so they could help themselves and their communities. He demonstrated how to channel anger and frustration into member-led movements to change institutions and policies. He worked to give a voice to people in the decisions that shape their lives.

To bolster the reporting competition, the foundation will offer online workshops and industry-recognized advisers for student journalists who consider participating.

> Sign up for mentorship opportunities on the Foundation’s website.

About the Foundation for Systemic Change

The Foundation for Systemic Change provides flexible grant funding to support engagement projects such as documentaries, music, and podcasts that highlight ongoing economic, political, social, racial, ethnic and environmental inequities. As an integral part of their proposals, these projects emphasize a systemic approach to addressing such issues.

About National Scholastic Press Association

NSPA advances journalism and media as a vital cultural force by connecting advisers, students and professionals through national events and competitions. The association enhances journalistic standards and inspires journalism students and educators.