Young Journalists Test Skills at Write-Offs

March 11, 2016

Approximately 100 students from nine high schools in the greater Los Angeles area put their writing skills to the test at the annual Regional High School Journalism Write-Off Competition at California State University, Northridge on Saturday. The Los Angeles Journalism Teachers Association sponsored the event where students with the most proficient writing would advance into the statewide write-off competition on March 12 in Long Beach. 

 “This event allows high school students to see journalism at the next level by meeting professors in the department and introducing them to the college setting,” said Kimberly Messadieh, who has been overseeing the event for the past three years in coordination with the Journalism Education Association. 

 The write-off took place in Manzanita Hall at CSUN bringing in Los Angeles’ most prospective journalists to compete in news, opinion, features, sports and novice writing, as well as, photography. Students registered at 9 a.m. They then had a meet and greet with their fellow competitors and were introduced to their respective judges, who led them into three different rooms where they were allotted one hour to write. 

 Lauren Hannani, 15, from Beverly Hills High School did feature writing on guest speaker, Kyla Carter. 

 “This competition is beneficial because a lot of people don’t get this opportunity and the experience that comes out of it is great because we’re given the chance to interact with others that have the same interests as you,” said Hannani. “Kyla gave us some insight into her life and it was interesting to write about what she does.”

 Carter spoke to feature writers about her experience working as a competitive rhythmic gymnast that has been with circus since she was 13 years old. She has worked with Cirque du Soleil, has been on The Today Show and pursued a degree in pattern design.

 For an hour, students wrote feature stories on Carter’s endeavors. CSUN professors Stephanie Bluestein, Ben Davis, Jim Hill and Rick Marks served as judges for news, opinion, feature and sports writing.

 “I’ve been here for 24 years and have been a part of this event every year since coming to CSUN. I look for accuracy, clarity, balance, fairness and from a technical standpoint, grammar and spelling,” Marks said. “Advice I would offer students is to read and read some more, write and write all the time, collect your thoughts and tell stories over and over again, and lastly, control your ideas and create good writing that’s tight and accurate and compels readers to read on.”

 The last hour of the write-off consisted of awarding students in their efforts and accomplishments. Results included Vivian Geilim, third place in photography, Keith Stone, first place in news writing and Max Yera, first place in sports writing.


- Jasmine J. Reyes