Congratulations to the 2017 Todd C. Smith Florida Student Journalists of the Year
Tyler Rispoli, Boone High School (Orlando)
Annie Aguiar, Hillsborough High School (Tampa)
Karina Blodnieks, Cooper City High School
A panel of five judges reviewed entries from 15 applicants. The panel consisted of four retired journalism educators still actively engaged in scholastic journalism and an out-of-state college media professor. They used the national SJOY rubric to evaluate entries, and selected their top five. A first-place finish earned 5 points, with 4 to second, 3 to third, 2 to fourth and 1 to fifth.
When all judges’ scores were combined, the top three finished with 20, 19 and 16 total points. There were tiebreaker procedures in place, but none were necessary based on the final scores. Two other students appeared on multiple ballots, earning 9 and 7 points. Two other students each appeared once and eight students did not place in any judges’ top five.
FSPA has doubled its scholarship amounts for winners, with $1,000, $600 and $400 going to the SJOYs this year. The winner will also represent Florida in the Journalism Education Association’s national SJOY competition. Rispoli is the second consecutive winner from Boone; his fellow Brave Matthew Casler was a national runner-up last year.
All three winners will be recognized at the FSPA Convention banquet on Friday, April 28 in Orlando. The award is named for Todd C. Smith, a Tampa Tribune reporter killed while reporting a story in Peru.