IJEA Blog: Encourage your news and feature writers to compete at the IJEA Fall Conference!

Do you have writers on your staff whose talents you would like to showcase at this Friday's IJEA Fall Conference? Here's an opportunity for them to refine their skills under real-world conditions — and perhaps even win an award!

September 12, 2017


We want your best writers to try their hand at reporting this Friday at the 2017 IJEA Fall Conference in Urbana-Champaign.

Since 2012, the News/Feature Write-Off has been a highlight of the conference at the University of Illinois.

This year there are two categories: News Writing and Feature Writing.

News Writing students will cover the keynote speech, and Feature Writing students will write a personality profile on the speaker, using the speech as the news peg.

One student from each staff is allowed to participate in each competition, modeled after the Write-Offs at the national JEA convention.

After signing in at the registration table, students receive a reporters notebook in which to take notes and some basic background information on the speaker. With a reserved front-row seat, they then listen to the speech, along with the hundreds of other student journalists.

After the speech, the reporters competing are taken to a special venue for a 20-minute group question-and-answer period, giving reporters a chance to ask questions, to get to know the speaker and his personality and to learn more about the topic.

To help their students prepare for the Write-Off competition, students should do some research on this year’s keynote speaker, Ash-har Quraishi, a reporter for NBC 5 Chicago, formerly with Al Jazeera America and Islamabad Bureau Chief for CNN.

Quraishi’s speech, titled “The News Media: Rediscovering its Voice,” focuses on how journalists are rediscovering their voices and rededicating efforts to find truth and deliver it to audiences who are seeking knowledge they can trust.

After the Q&A, reporters are taken by the proctors, U of I journalism students, to a computer classroom in Gregory Hall, where they have an hour to type their stories, print them out and turn them in to the proctors.

A combination of good listening, interviewing, researching and writing skills help catapult the winning story in the judges’ eyes.

All stories receive editing and comments. First-, second- and third-place winners are announced, usually by early afternoon, on IJEA social media. A certificate and prizes are sent to the winners and all entries are returned.

For more information contact Prof. Sally Renaud at [email protected].


Dr. Sally Renaud, executive director of IJEA, is professor of journalism at Eastern Illinois University and chair of the EIU journalism department.

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