Journalists’ competition: Always better, more and more digital – Bavaria

To publish a successful school newspaper, many things have to come together. Creativity and ambition, for example, an understanding of technology and the ability to work in a team, a love of the word. However, what may be needed most in these special times is good nerves. Because for more than a year and a half, little has gone according to plan due to the pandemic. In spite of this, schoolchildren from all over the Free State once again managed to submit a total of 91 award-winning print and online newspapers to the journalism competition. For the 16th time this was won by Süddeutscher Zeitung and the Bavarian Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, 21 editorial offices were particularly happy at the end: on Friday they were recognized as the best school newspapers in the country.

Reason to celebrate. And yet not either. The award ceremony had to be canceled last year due to Corona, the editors learned of their placements from an Internet film. This year, the event should actually take place in attendance again, if only to enable exchange: Many editorial offices normally use the journalists’ awards to get in touch with colleagues elsewhere and to be inspired by their formats and ideas. Instead, the pandemic turned everything upside down this year as well. Instead of meeting in Munich’s SZ tower, the winning editorial teams were switched to a TV studio run by Mediaschool Bayern in Munich. Viktoria Spinrad from SZ’s Bavarian editorial team acted as moderator through the approximately 75-minute event, which took place for the first time this year as a digital live stream.

“And now it’s your turn.”

When was the first school newspaper published in Germany? With this question, Stefan Hilscher, Managing Director of SZ GmbH, greeted the participants at the award ceremony and then answered it himself: 123 years ago, students in Lübeck were the first to share their view of things with the people in printed form. Whereby no less a person than Thomas Mann, who later won the Nobel Prize for Literature, was involved. “And now it’s your turn,” Hilscher asked the students with a wink in front of their screens. And apparently he has no doubts about their talent. “The school newspapers are getting better and better and more and more digital, just like the SZ”, was Hilscher’s summary of this year’s journalism competition. In any case, the good future that he finally wished for the event should come true as long as young people like Mia Szymczak from Odelzhausen take part. She and her colleagues ended up in the elementary school category with hers Inkblot in second place. According to the jury, your special edition on the subject of Corona keeps what it promises. For example, it contains handicraft instructions for a green coronavirus and a recipe for corona biscuits that want to tempt people to copy – even if the Mia on the show admitted that she had not yet tried the biscuits herself.

The deputy SZ editor-in-chief Ulrich Schäfer also started working for a school newspaper.

(Photo: Stephan Rumpf)

However, this did not diminish the appetite for more excellent school newspapers. On the contrary, the “professionals” in the group all praised the high quality of the publications submitted – especially in comparison to their own first journalistic work. Deputy SZ editor-in-chief Ulrich Schäfer remembered that at the end of his school days he was already responsible for the Abitur newspaper as editor-in-chief. “But it didn’t look nearly as good as the newspapers we are honoring today,” he admitted. With the contribution from the Bertolt-Brecht-Mittelschule in Nuremberg, it is less the layout than the content of “Justified” put their makers in second place. The team around Esin Duman clearly demonstrated that curiosity combined with thorough journalistic research belong to the tools of the trade and lead to the goal, among other things with an exciting survey and statistics on homeschooling.

Quite a few told Corona stories

In view of the circumstances, it is astonishing what many school newspaper editorial offices have achieved under difficult conditions. Even in normal times, the workload is enormous; The children and young people research, write, take photos, layout and code in the free minutes between school, homework, sport and sleeping. During Corona, the working conditions tightened again. Events that could have been reported on were often canceled in the past school year, editorial meetings had to be moved to the virtual world, and new technical and organizational hurdles had to be overcome. As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, normal school life then broke away for long stretches. In alternating between distance and face-to-face lessons, some teams lost sight of each other a little. Anyone who asked around the editorial offices at the end of the school year in July was told of one longing: that in the new school year everything would hopefully get a little better, a little more normal.

Many school newspapers also made a virtue out of necessity. In their editions, Corona diaries now clearly tell about the everyday life of young people under pandemic conditions. And some of the focal points could also be read as a deliberately set counterpoint to the pandemic: for example, the thematic booklet of the Elly-Heuss-Realschule Munich, which was dedicated to the passion of music in different facets. Of the Student prophet of the Staatliche Realschule Sonthofen took Harry Potter as a common thread – and managed, under this imaginative motto, to deal with the pragmatic question of how money can be made at a young age. the Franzi The Franziskusschule Neustadt an der Aisch-Bad Windsheim, on the other hand, attracted attention with a self-recorded CD as a school newspaper to listen to.

Journalism competition: Ralf Nemetschek has committed himself to promoting democracy with his foundation.

Ralf Nemetschek has committed himself to promoting democracy with his foundation.

(Photo: Stephan Rumpf)

Once again, the Nemetschek Foundation was responsible for the financial recognition. The third-place winners each receive 200 euros, the second winners receive 300 euros and the first-placed winners each receive 500 euros. The latter also move up to the so-called Club of the Best and receive workshops with SZ editors and journalism coaches in order to become even better. To do this, however, they have to take a year off so that others have a chance of winning.

Commitment to democracy

Participation in the school newspaper competition Blattmacher is ultimately intended to promote democracy, which the Nemetschek Foundation has been committed to for 13 years. Ralf Nemetschek does not want to see anything particularly difficult or even burdensome in this engagement – in response to a corresponding question from moderator Viktoria Spinrad. “The work is fun,” he says. That is why the foundation wants to give the young journalists solid support, for example in the form of such workshops. Ralf Nemetschek’s enthusiasm is definitely noticeable when it really gushes out of him: “The school newspapers get involved, they reflect on themselves and their surroundings – and knock it out.”

Journalists' competition: Words of praise from Stefan Graf, head of the Ministry of Culture: The Johannes-Heidenhain-Gymnasium Traunreut won the prize for "JOpinon", the best newspaper online.

Words of praise from Stefan Graf, head of the Ministry of Culture: The Johannes-Heidenhain-Gymnasium Traunreut won the award for “JOpinon”, the best online newspaper.

(Photo: Stephan Rumpf)

Or as Stefan Graf, the head of the Bavarian Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, put it, albeit a bit more state-sponsored: “For us, the school newspaper is a very important institution,” a medium that also teaches how to resolve conflicts.

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