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2018 Michael S. Powell HS Journalist of the Year: Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s Matthew Cohen

Matthew Cohen named MDDC’s Top High School Journalist for 2018

This high school journalist is one to watch.  Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School senior Matthew Cohen has been named the 2018 Michael S. Powell High School Journalist of the Year.  Matthew is a triple play: editor-in-chief of his high school print newspaper, the Tattler, managing over 80 staffers; intern sports reporter for the Montgomery County Sentinel; and contributor to Maryland Sports Access website covering the Washington Nationals.  The runner-up was Alyssa Kraus, of John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland.

A panel of MDDC editors and reporters, including Angie Price of the Bay Times, Dan Divilio of the Kent County News, Ben Penserga of The Daily Times, and Brian Karem of The Sentinel Newspapers reviewed applications for this prestigious $1,500 cash award.  Students were asked to submit an autobiographical statement about journalism, a letter of recommendation from their journalism teacher or advisor as well as five published articles demonstrating their versatility and skill. 

The judges were impressed by Matthew’s writing, saying that he “is ready now to go into a newsroom.” In fact, he is already published by professional news outlets. Jacob Bogage of the Washington Post (High School Journalist of the Year for 2012) notes that “my colleagues and I who cover high school sports for The Washington Post know that our great competitor to break local news stories is Matt Cohen.” The judges were also impressed by his versatility and ability to move beyond sports and into news.  One of the editors on the judging panel remarked that Matthew “is a good writer with a strong future ahead of him.”  

Matthew thrives on building his beat and relishes developing relationships with coaches and players.  Those relationships have paid off. Because of “the reputation [Matthew] had built up locally as a reporter, the introduction of [his] top 10 rankings for the Montgomery County teams quickly gained credibility. Coaches from other schools across the County use [his] rankings when tweeting about a game their team played.”  

Matthew plans to major in journalism at a top-tier journalism school with Division I athletics, providing him with a strong background in covering sports at a major college level.  He dreams of becoming the beat writer for the Washington Nationals at a D.C. publication.

Alyssa, as runner-up, showed tremendous dedication to journalism and good promise in her writing.  As a judge remarked, she “represents the spirit that we want to see in young journalists.”  Having written for John Carroll’s The Patriot newspaper for several years, she and her fellow staffers were shocked at the sudden firing of the publication’s advisor.  After increasing oversight, regulations and censorship by the school administration, she and 17 of the 25 students enrolled in the newspaper class resigned.  Through this experience, she tenaciously worked through professional news media organizations, advocacy groups such as Student Press Law Center and reached out to alumni to bring light to the situation.  As she notes, “my years of journalism have not been easy or simple in any way, but by working on The Patriot, I learned more about myself than ever before. I am a much more outspoken and confident young woman who is unafraid to take on serious issues. Due to the problems during my final year of high school, I am focused more than ever on speaking out and sharing my voice. These obstacles have only prepared me for my future. As a journalist, I value freedom of speech and the opportunity to raise others up through the power of words, which is why I intend to follow this dream throughout the rest of my life.“

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