MANCHESTER, NH – New Hampshire high school journalists are invited to apply for The 2021 Brodsky Prize, established by a former editor of Manchester Central High School student newspaper Jeffrey Brodsky to encourage innovation by a new generation of student journalists. The $10,000 Brodsky Prize is open to all New Hampshire high school students, attending public, charter or parochial schools.
Judging criteria include a student’s journalistic initiative and enterprise, as well as what Brodsky calls “a contrarian nature and out-of-the-box thinking.” Since many school newspapers have been challenged by the COVID pandemic, this year’s Brodsky Prize focuses on student responses to essay questions, using a Solutions Journalism lens.
Interested students should submit examples of their work that are illustrative of the prize criteria, along with an up to 1000-word essay on one of the following prompts:
- How has the pandemic challenged your community and how could this lead to a more promising future?
- How has the pandemic challenged your school and what positive changes could result?
- How has Covid affected you and your family on a personal level?
Applications can be submitted to brodskyprize.com. The deadline is June 1, 2021.
“Working on the school newspaper was the most formative and meaningful high school experience for me — more than any classroom,” Jeffrey Brodsky said. “It’s more important than ever for young journalists to push boundaries and to challenge authority, and they can start by using the power of their school paper just like the press in the professional world.”
When Brodsky, now 47, and Manchester Central classmate Misbah Tahir assumed co-editorship of the Little Green newspaper, they turned it into a broadsheet publication, added color photography, and introduced new design and typography. They revitalized a stagnant student newspaper circulation read by 20 percent of the school’s population, boosting readership to over 75 percent of Central’s students.
They also encouraged student reporters to ask tough questions and explore different topics. It was an editorial questioning the transparency of freshman class elections that got the two editors in trouble with the school administration, which felt identifying a faculty member in its criticism was out of line.
The two editors found themselves sidelined, briefly. Then, the school appointed a new faculty adviser and the paper was back in business, continuing to win local and national journalism honors. Brodsky was featured in the non-fiction book, “Death by Cheeseburger,” which chronicled censored high school journalism around the nation. Brodsky later testified before the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee about student press rights.
After graduating from Central in 1992, Brodsky studied oral history and communications at Columbia University, becoming a historian and documentary producer, before illness forced his retirement and return to his hometown. At Columbia, his signature project was interviewing prominent politicians about their first political campaigns. Brodsky conducted extensive interviews with more than 84 U.S. governors, senators, two Speakers of the U.S. House, and heads of state from South America, Europe, Africa and New Zealand. Brodsky wrote about his experiences in a feature article in The Washington Post Magazine, and Brodsky was extensively interviewed by Michel Martin for National Public Radio, NPR.
The Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications helps oversee the award program and provides one of the judges, Executive Director Laura Simoes. Longtime judges are Howard Brodsky, Jeffrey’s father, and Chairman and CEO of CCA Global Partners; Misbah Tahir, the former Little Green co-editor, now a biotechnology finance executive and former NH Union Leader and Sunday News president and publisher Joseph McQuaid. New judges for 2021’s focus on Solutions Journalism as a writing style are Roger Carroll, managing editor of The Laconia Sun, and Leah Todd, New England regional manager of the Solutions Journalism Network. Both the NH Union Leader/Sunday News and The Laconia Sun are part of NH Solutions Journalism Lab projects at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.
Solutions journalism “investigates and explains, in a critical and clear-eyed way, how people try to solve widely shared problems. While journalists usually define news as “what’s gone wrong,” solutions journalism tries to expand that definition: responses to problems are also newsworthy. By adding rigorous coverage of solutions, journalists can tell the whole story.”
More information on The Brodsky Prize, including past winners, is available at brodskyprize.com.