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2009 Michael S. Powell HS Journalist of the Year: Charles Smith Jewish Day School’s Samuel Greenberg

Samuel Greenberg, a senior from Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (JDS), has won the Michael S. Powell High School Journalist of the Year award.
Greenburg, of Rockville, Maryland, has worked for the JDS newspaper, The Lion’s Tale, since his freshman year. Greenburg began as a staff writer but was quickly promoted to assistant editor for the Israel section within his first year. He was promoted again to news editor in the 10th grade and to editor-in-chief in his junior year.
To supplement his experiences with the school paper, Greenberg has twice attended Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s conferences and participated in the Maryland Scholastic Press Association Summer Journalism Program and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Summer Journalism Workshop, where he was honored with awards for writing and layout.
Greenberg praised scholastic journalism’s role as a “microcosm of democracy within the school.” Scholastic journalism, Greenberg said, encourages both the publishing staff and the readership to be active, critically thinking and productive members of their community. He stressed the role of a free press on a global as well as a scholastic scale, and placed great significance on the need for student journalists to accept editorial responsibility for their work—even when the effort is challenged.
Greenburg’s investigative effort into a story uncovered information the school’s administration would censor. After an article about the salaries of private school heads, including JDS’ headmaster, appeared in The Washington Post, the staff of The Lion's Tale prepared to report on the fallout. Citing concerns for privacy and avoiding controversy, the administration limited the parameters of the newspaper’s coverage of the subject.
The article’s subject was one that Greenberg had already been investigating. Grace McMillan, advisor to the paper at the time, said, “what continues to astound me is that a high school kid was thinking of the exact same story that a national newspaper ran long before the paper ran the story. This…illustrated to me Sam’s innate instinct about what is going on below the surface and his commitment to uncovering difficult facts to support an open society.”
Following this controversy, Greenberg took on the JDS administration’s policy on pre-publication review of the paper and, after a lengthy battle, succeeded in having the oversight lifted. Greenberg wrote about other sensitive subjects as well, such as the sudden departure of the school’s principal, an illegal party that involved the police, and an exploration of the JDS student body’s perspective on the existence of God.
After a succession of changes at the paper’s adviser post, Greenberg developed a comprehensive staff manual detailing and preserving the newspaper’s policies and standards for the future. He has been published in Washington Jewish Week and was recently inducted into Quill and Scroll, the international honorary society for high school journalists.
Greenberg has an “idealistic commitment to uncovering the truth, supported by (a) keen news sense,” McMillan says. He is, she says, committed “to everything that journalism is about: truth, hard work (and) responsibility to a civil society.”
Greenberg plans to attend Yale University in the fall, where he hopes to join the staff of the Yale Daily News. He hopes to stay active in the field and to continue developing his skills for a career in journalism.
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