2024 Student Voice Awards Recipients Cover Racism in AI, Conditions in Private Prisons, and the Efficacy of Traditional Grading Systems 

Watch the 2024 Student Voice Awards here!

Eugene, OR | April 26, 2024 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Journalistic Learning Initiative (JLI) proudly recognizes excellent student journalism annually through its  Student Voice Awards celebration, hosted by acclaimed journalist and talk show host Michaela Pereira. Stories published in JLI’s three pillar programs—The Student Voice, Black Student Magazine, and Effective Communicators—are considered. This year’s winners covered topics including racism in AI, conditions in private prisons, and the efficacy of traditional grading systems in public education. 

Of all the student works submitted for recognition in this year’s three categories, the Commentary, Social Impact, and Multimedia Awards, the following pieces were selected for their exceptional display of journalistic excellence.

Oregon high school freshman Nicole Reksopuro’s radio report titled “Racism in AI” was selected for the 2024 Commentary Award, which recognizes work that effectively examines a topic through rigorous research and critical thinking. Coming from a family involved in machine learning and equity, Reksopuro passionately investigated racial biases baked into generative and facial-recognizing AI. In her piece, Reksopuro demonstrates a knack for coupling fact with narrative to make a compelling case for why tech corporations need to involve “diverse perspectives in AI research and development.”

For the Social Impact Award, which acknowledges student work that illuminates an important or overlooked issue in the community, JLI selected Washington high schooler Jadyn Holme’s article, “Conditions in Prisons Affect Recidivism Rates.” Jadyn’s interest in popular prison-centered television shows like “Orange is the New Black” inspired her to look deeper into what life is really like for inmates. In her piece, Jadyn brings to the forefront critical flaws of private prisons that are often overlooked.

This year’s multimedia category, which recognizes outstanding audio/visual storytelling, was awarded to Oregon high schoolers Tristan Hlad and Ben Rupp for their podcast episode titled, “Are Grades Still a Useful Form of Feedback?” Hlad and Rupp’s multimedia piece explores whether traditional grading systems are accurate measurements of competency or if they should be “left with the steam engine.” By utilizing contemplative music and intimate interviews, they take listeners on an emotional deep dive through the topic.

Our annual celebration also acknowledges the committed educators who make JLI’s work possible. This year’s Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes an educator new to JLI who models exceptional teaching of Journalistic Learning practices, went to Jennifer Kahlenberg, a 6th-grade teacher from Illinois. With over two decades of teaching experience, Jennifer encourages curiosity and individual expression in her classroom and helps them become confident and authentic writers through JLI’s Effective Communicators program.

JLI’s Distinguished Educator Award is given to educators who have demonstrated several years of significant impact to the field of teaching while furthering the principles and methods of the Journalistic Learning Initiative. This year’s Distinguished Educator is Steven Fleissner, a high school ELA teacher who has championed JLI’s Journalistic Learning approach since our 2015 pilot. Today, Steven continues to bridge ELA studies with journalistic strategies at Pathways Accelerating Career Experiences (PACE) in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Effective mentorship can be a terrific boon for young people looking to develop their journalistic skills. JLI’s Outstanding Mentor Award recognizes a mentor whose efforts have helped students find their voices and express themselves effectively. For her contributions as a coach and role model while serving as this year’s editor of JLI’s Black Student Magazine, University of Oregon graduating senior Elizabeth Briese received the 2024 Outstanding Mentor Award.

“The Student Voice Awards are designed to amplify young people’s perspectives on pressing issues, which might otherwise go unheard,” said JLI Executive Director Ed Madison. “Journalism can be a powerful tool for civically engaging youth, whether they decide to pursue it professionally or not.”

The Journalistic Learning Initiative (JLI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to empowering youth through journalism education and media literacy. By providing resources, training, and support, JLI cultivates the next generation of critical thinkers and storytellers, equipping them with the skills to navigate an ever-evolving media landscape. 

For more information, please visit journalisticlearning.org/sva2024 or contact Bo Brusco at bo@journalisticlearning.org 

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