Submissions are open for the 2021 Brodsky Prize, established by a former editor of the Manchester Central High School newspaper, and his family, to encourage out-of-the-box efforts and innovation by a new generation of student journalists. The $10,000 Brodsky Prize is open to all NH high school seniors, attending public, charter or parochial schools.
Judging criteria include a student's journalistic initiative and enterprise, as well as "a contrarian nature and out-of-the-box thinking." Since many school newspapers have been challenged by the pandemic this year’s Brodsky Prize focuses on student responses to essay questions, using a Solutions Journalism lens.
Interested students should submit examples of their work that are illustrative of the prize criteria, along with an up to 800-word essay on one of the following: How has the pandemic challenged your community and how could this lead to a more promising future? Or, How has the pandemic challenged your school and what positive changes could result?
Applications can be submitted to thebrodskyprize.com. The deadline is May 14, 2021.
“Working on the school newspaper was the most formative and meaningful high school experience for me — more than any classroom," Jeffrey Brodsky said. "It's more important now than ever for young journalists to push boundaries and to challenge authority, and they can start by using the power of their school paper just like the press in the real world."
When Brodsky, now 47, and Manchester Central classmate Misbah Tahir assumed co-editorship of the "Little Green" newspaper, they turned it into a broadsheet publication, added color photography, and introduced new design and typography. They revitalized a stagnant student newspaper circulation read by 20% of the school's population, boosting readership to over 75% of Central's students.
They also encouraged student reporters to ask tough questions and explore different topics. It was an editorial questioning the transparency of freshman class elections that got the two editors in trouble with the school administration, which felt identifying a faculty member in its criticism was out of line.
The two editors found themselves sidelined, briefly. Then, the school appointed a new faculty adviser and the paper was back in business, continuing to win local and national journalism honors. Brodsky was featured in the non-fiction book, "Death By Cheeseburger", which chronicled censored high school journalism around the nation. He testified before the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee about student press rights.
After graduating from Central in 1992, Brodsky studied oral history and communications at Columbia University, becoming a historian and documentary producer, before illness forced his retirement and return to his hometown. At Columbia, his signature project was interviewing prominent politicians about their first political campaigns. Brodsky conducted extensive
interviews with more than 84 U.S. governors, senators, and heads of state from South America, Europe, Africa and New Zealand. Brodsky wrote about his experiences in a feature article in The Washington Post Magazine.
The Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications, helps oversee the award program and provides one of the judges, Executive Director Laura Simoes. Longtime judges are Howard Brodsky, Jeffrey's father, and chairman and CEO or CCA Global Partners, Inc.; Misbah Tahir, the former Little Green co-editor, now a biotechnology finance executive; former NH Union Leader and Sunday News president and publisher Joseph McQuaid. New judges for 2021’s focus on Solutions Journalism as a writing style are Roger Carroll, managing editor of The Laconia Sun, and Leah Todd, New England regional manager of the Solutions Journalism Network.
Both the NH Union Leader/Sunday News and The Laconia Sun are part of NH Solutions Journalism Lab project at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Solutions journalism “investigates and explains, in a critical and clear-eyed way, how people try to solve widely shared problems. While journalists usually define news as “what’s gone wrong,” solutions journalism tries to expand that definition: responses to problems are also newsworthy. By adding rigorous coverage of solutions, journalists can tell the whole story.”