Mequon student wins Wisconsin Journalist of the Year award

A student from Mequon has been named Wisconsin Journalist of the Year 2022 by the Wisconsin Journalism Education Association.

Annie Brown, a senior at Homestead High School, received the honor, which comes with a $1,000 scholarship. As the state winner, the papers she submitted for the state competition will also be submitted for the Journalism Education Association’s National Journalist of the Year competition. The national winner receives a $3,000 scholarship and up to three finalists will receive scholarships of up to $1,000, according to a press release from the JEA of Wisconsin.

The national winner will be announced at the Journalism Education Association’s national convention in Los Angeles, scheduled for April 7.

“I was very excited. It was really a surprise. I didn’t think I was going to win, but I heard from my adviser, and I was very proud and very happy, and my staff are very happy for me, which I was very grateful for. And yeah, it was mostly just shock and surprise, just happiness,” Brown said.

Wisconsin JEA also selected two other students as finalists, Ashlyn Jacobs of Neenah High School and Meghan Morgan of Pulaski High School.

For the competition, applicants were required to submit an online portfolio of their journalism work in different categories, along with a resume, current transcript, personal essay and recommendation from that student’s journalism advisor, according to a statement from hurry.

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Brown’s journalism adviser and English teacher at Homestead is Rachel Rauch, who wrote Brown’s letter of recommendation.

“Annie is a real leader. If something needs to be done, she’s the first to step up. She’ll solve problems. She’ll lead the way. She’ll include everyone’s ideas in her plan,” Rauch said. “Since the day she started as a journalist years ago, she has always sought first to be a good writer and to learn all the different types of journalistic writing. photography, which seeped into design. She’s a movie blogger for us every week. She also started our very first movie podcast.

“What I really admire about her is her ability to keep stepping out of her comfort zone and doing whatever needs to be done for her team, which has made her a very well-rounded journalist, which which certainly paid off for that honor.”

On his online portfolio, Brown has examples of his reporting and writing work, which includes stories about high school sports, a protest, and movies. She also posted photos she took of events such as school plays and football games, as well as examples of her design work, web and social media efforts. , and a podcast.

Announcing Brown’s honour, a JEA press release said: “An in-depth look at the treatment of female athletes off the field was particularly powerful and well-researched. In addition to this hard-hitting writing, the photography and design Annie’s show an eye for detail and genuine emotion. She even spent the summer after her freshman year shadowing an Orange County Register photojournalist in California and is a creator and leader who clearly knows how to tell a story of more than one way.

The passion for writing

Brown said growing up she was always into writing and was encouraged by her parents to explore. She also spent time watching “CBS Sunday Morning” with her family and watching TV shows hosted by celebrity chef, author and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain.

“I was really impressed with the reporters and what they were doing,” Brown said.

Once in high school, she heard about the school’s program, Highlander Productions, primarily for writing. She then began to dabble in design and photography.

One such writing effort focused on creating a magazine about women in school and in the community and how to better serve them. Although he didn’t go to production because the school year ended before they could finish, Brown said she and her staff were able to write stories about the women in their school, including an opinion piece she wrote in May 2021 about the school’s female athletes. .

Brown said she wanted to write about the subject because she is also an athlete, playing two sports for her school. Her older sister also played tennis for the women’s tennis team when she was a student.

“They won four state championships when she was in school, and they didn’t get a lot of recognition from the school, so that’s something I thought about a lot over the course of my four years and something I really wanted to talk about,” Brown said.

learn photography

She admits that photography scared her at first.

“While writing, you can do a lot of research and you can get citations and you can spend days on an article. But if you miss the moment to capture the photo, you’ve missed that moment. So that was something that I was like, “Oh, I don’t think I have the vision to capture every important moment in a sport or activity,” she explained.

As she progressed through writing, Brown said she realized she couldn’t turn down photo assignments.

“I just decided that in order to support my staff, it was something important that I had to learn how to do. So I spent an entire weekend learning camera techniques and how to come up with great photos and good lighting and changing lighting on the fly, changing lenses, all that technical stuff,” Brown said.

She then signed up to take photos of women’s hockey and spring games; the spring game images turned out to be some of his favorites.

“I realized that if I put work at the forefront of what I was doing, I would be able to capture photos,” Brown said. “It eventually became something that students really want to see because people like to see pictures of themselves. So I really enjoyed that part, sharing my pictures as well as my writing.”

With the help of a colleague, Brown also created a Picture of the Week post on Highlander Publication’s social media pages.

Brown even took time out on a family trip to California, where her mother is from, after her freshman year of high school to shadow Orange County Register photojournalist Mindy Schauer.

“I just emailed her, and she was perfectly happy for me to follow her for a day. We went to a press conference about the new forest firefighting helicopters. She just showed me how to be assertive and be a good photographer in a setting where there’s a lot of press and a lot going on, and that was really educational,” Brown said.

Design, management

Design is an important part of the yearbook team, and Brown and his team use programs such as InDesign to put the yearbook together.

Like other aspects of journalism, design has come with a learning curve.

“It really gave me a better eye for a sports season or whatever because it’s the interplay of photos and writing that makes a really good yearbook. So it was such a great privilege to do this for our school,” she said.

Being co-editor of Highlander Publications has also meant learning leadership and working with the diverse skills and talents of other staff members.

“It’s been really interesting and enlightening for me to see how everyone can thrive in a particular area of ​​our staff,” she said. “It showed me where I can find my talents in staff and be a leader that way and set a good example for my people.”

Other activities, future projects

Brown is also Co-Chair of the Student Council, Co-Founder and Vice-Chair of the Homestead Film Club, and President of Homestead and Global Youth Ambassador for She’s the First, a club that aims to reduce gender inequality through education. education in underdeveloped countries. Outside of school, she is a teenage ambassador for the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern Wisconsin, according to an article posted on the Mequon-Thiensville School District website.

Brown is undecided about her plans after high school, but said she could see herself as an English or journalism teacher, and do global health journalism or war correspondence.

“I just traveled and worked on my language skills as well,” Brown said.

Contact Alec Johnson at (262) 875-9469 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @AlecJohnson12.