2014 Michael S. Powell HS Journalist of the Year: Churchill Observer’s Ben Fox
Ben Fox of the Churchill Observer and Potomac Almanac has been named the 2014 Michael S. Powell High School Journalist of the Year, beating out more than 20 students from the Maryland, Delaware and DC areas. Fox is the 15th overall winner of the award, which is given by the Press Foundation, the charitable arm of the MDDC Press Association, to recognize and nurture the talents of up and coming journalists. The MDDC reaches out to high schools each year in the region to solicit nominations for the $1,500 scholarship. Students submit an application, several writing samples, and letters of reference, which are evaluated by the selection committee. The students were evaluated on the quality of the writing and references as well as the time and energy put into the school newspaper and their passion for journalism.
Ben is a senior at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland. He started at the Churchill Observer, the high school newspaper, during his sophomore year. Ben was the sports photography editor in 2012 and then the sports editor in 2013. He contributed high school sports coverage to a MDDC member paper, the Potomac Almanac, for several months in 2013. Ben will attend Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications in the fall.
Ben has been interested in writing since his childhood and found his niche in sports journalism at the Potomac Almanac. “While my time at the Almanac lasted only a few months, the experience was invaluable - It gave me insight into uncovering and developing the narrative that surrounded a game or player by going beyond the simple stats and figures,” Ben wrote in his application. With this experience, and armed with knowledge gained at the JEAA/SPA Journalism Conference, Ben was energized to “reboot” the sports section, beginning “a new focus on sports features and opinions that highlighted the underlying drama to which sports was so closely linked.”
Mary Kimm, editor and publisher of the Potomac Almanac, noted that “Ben Fox was an eager and motivated intern assisting in our sports department in the fall of 2012. He brought keen observations to his event coverage. “ She added “it's wonderful that he is being recognized for his talent. We offer him our congratulations.”
The Potomac Almanac, covering the Potomac, Maryland area, often provides internships like the one Ben held. Kimm notes that the publication is “usually able to provide opportunities for motivated interns to have their work published in the papers so that they do come away with clips.”
Kelly M. Knarr, the Churchill Advisor and English/Journalism teacher at Winston Churchill High School, enthusiastically endorsed Ben for this honor, noting his strong work ethic and dedication to all aspects of the process. She writes: “Ben was not content with the status quo. It would have been very easy for him to just keep the sports section as it was and breeze through his senior year. Instead, he writes an average of three stories a month, works with younger writers who are covering more difficult stories, and advises the sports photographers to ensure our pictures are just as good as our stories. He even stays after school on our production nights to guide the page designers and make sure the sports pages look their best… Ben has a love for journalism that cannot be taught, and an intrinsic desire to write and inform that others benefit from. He is the ideal recipient for your scholarship, and I strongly and enthusiastically recommend him.”
Members of the selection committee agreed with Ms. Knarr’s assessment. Committee members Terry Headlee of The Frederick News Post (chair), Angie Price of the Star Democrat, and Jim Lee of the Carroll County Times deliberated over their choice. “There were several very strong candidates for this award, but he was the clear winner,” Headlee said. “His writing is strong; I could see him plugging into a newsroom easily,”Price added. The committee was impressed with Ben’s potential. Lee noted “His work shows drive, determination and planning. He has passion!”
Congratulations to Ben Fox, the 2014 recipient of the Michael S. Powell High School Journalist award.