Journalists Shine at Annual UIL State Contest

Courtesy: Teia Jensen
Harris Pemberton receives gold medal for winning first in the 6A division for feature writing at the UIL State journalism contest, held at Hogg Auditorium Tuesday, May 14. Pemberton, a seasoned member of the Featherduster staff for four years and Editor-in-Chief, secures his place in journalism excellence as he prepares to elevate his career at Syracuse University in the fall.

Student journalists from various corners of Texas convene for the annual State UIL Journalism Contest May 14, hosted at The University of Texas Austin. This principal event in scholastic journalism serves as a platform for these young journalists to showcase their writing abilities and accomplish top honors.

In the 6A UIL State Journalism contest, senior Harris Pemberton stood out by earning first place in Feature Writing, showcasing exceptional storytelling and writing skills. Junior Adelene Chong also performed admirably, securing fourth place in Copy Editing. The efforts contributed significantly to their team’s overall success, leading them to finish as the second runner-up overall in the 6A division.. The awards ceremony, hosted at the Hogg Auditorium, highlighted many students’ collective talent and dedication to journalistic excellence.

“There wasn’t any major moment that stood out but it felt really good to walk across the stage and get that gold medal,” Pemberton said. “When you’re writing for a school newspaper, you’re normally covering all the storylines and great things that people in the community are doing and you rarely get praise for the hard work you do to cover them. So being able to have that moment of victory where I felt like both myself as well as my school, teachers, and the rest of the staff are being recognized for the work that we all have put in every day to get to where we are is a great feeling.” 

The victory highlighted the hard work of teachers who guided the students, editors who refined every article, and peers who collaborated on each issue. His win symbolized the culmination of these collective efforts, bringing well-deserved recognition to the entire team’s commitment and dedication.

The UIL sponsors five journalism contests, each designed to test a distinct set of skills crucial in the field of journalism. 

Firstly, news writing lasts 45 minutes, during which participants gather information and craft a concise yet comprehensive news article. Judges evaluate the accuracy, clarity, and effectiveness of the writing in conveying essential facts. Editorial writing requires contestants to express their opinions convincingly, constructing well-reasoned arguments supported by evidence to influence readers’ perspectives.

“Harris’ storytelling ability is what really sets him apart,” newspaper adviser Teia Jensen said. “He knows how to catch a reader’s attention with interesting parts of a story, and then he knows how to guide a reader through a story with a combination of quotes from his subject and his own writing.” Jensen notices his ability to seamlessly integrate firsthand accounts with his narrative keeps readers both informed and interested. 

Feature writing, which lasts 60 minutes, allows contestants more time to explore a deeper topic, providing engaging narratives and in-depth analysis. Headlines play a crucial role in attracting readers’ attention, and participants have 30 minutes to craft compelling headlines. Lastly, in the 15 minute copy editing contest, contestants meticulously correct written work, demonstrating their attention to detail and proficiency in ensuring high standards of accuracy and professionalism. 

These journalism contests not only provide participants with valuable opportunities to enhance their writing, editing, and critical thinking skills, but also grow a spirit of competition and camaraderie among aspiring journalists. This year’s state UIL Journalism contest was one for the books and will be a driving factor in preparing students for the dynamic world of media.

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