Last month, when schools were shutting down and internships were vanishing, a small group of veteran journalists put out the message to young scribes: Show us what you've got!
The contest was free. No one made a dime. The judges expected a couple of dozen entries. They got 409.
They came from high schools, from colleges, from graduate programs, from Africa, from France, from Israel.
They wrote. The judges read. Now, from 409, they've whittled the list to ten. Meet the The Big Scribble finalists:
--Kaia Hubbard, University of San Diego
--Nick Kelly, University of Missouri
--Joe Levin, University of Texas
--Samantha Port, Pine Crest School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
--Kate Smith, Creighton University
--Hannah Towey, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
--Amin Touri, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
--Leah Vann, Northwestern University
--Atreya Verma, Purdue University
--Zeke Warren-Weigmann, St. Olaf College
They've written profiles, feature stories, obits, and food reviews. Now, the Scribblers have one more assignment. Here it is:
We’re living in a strange moment in which we risk illness every time we interact with other humans. What can we do to show affection? How can we compensate for the loss of so much human contact? Write a column of 800 words or less on this subject, one that might appear on the oped page or in the Style section of The New York Times.
We’re giving you a lot of freedom on this.You can write about yourself (but you don’t have to).You can write about someone who presents a solution or offers an example.You can write about religion, pets, hugs, drugs, TV shows, music, friendship, history, politics… There are no end to the possibilities. But you must connect it to the theme: How do we compensate when our ability to show affection is restricted?
We know this is a difficult one. But we also know you're up to the challenge.
Some free advice:
Read the OpEd page and Style section. Understand the difference between a column and a term paper.
Make it a story, not a sermon.
If you write about yourself, be sure to remember that it should be in the service of a solid and clearly expressed idea. As much as we like you all, we’re not that interested in your personal lives.
Watch the Big Scribble Twitter feed because we’re going to be giving out advice from experts, and they’re going to discuss this assignment specifically.
Deadline for entry has passed. No new entries. Questions? Write: firstname.lastname@example.org
--A $200 gift certificate to the indie book seller of your choice.
--A letter of recommendation from the judges.
--A guest appearance on Jeff Pearlman’s “Two Writers Slinging Yang” podcast.
--1-on-1 consultations with:
Tom Junod, magazine writer
Rick Reilly, columnist and author
Evan Smith, Texas Tribune
Rebecca Lobo, ESPN
Andrea Kremer, Emmy winner
Steve Rushin, author
Bob Bicknell, CBS News
Laurie Abraham, The Atlantic
Max Borenstein, screenwriter
Haniif Abdurraquib, author
Chris Stone, sports editor of the Los Angeles Times.
Iliana Limon Romero, Orlando Sentinel
AJ Baime, WSJ, author
Sam Mellinger, Kansas City Star
Dan Forer, producer, writer, director
Kerri Blakinger, The Marshall Project
Chris Jones, magazine writer.
Jon Wertheim, SI, 60Minutes
Jeffrey Marx, author
Seth Wickersham, ESPN
Andrew Dallos, Rachel Maddow Show
Theresa Walker, AP
Kenny Mayne, ESPN
Diego Ribadeneira, NY Times
Jessica Huseman, Pro Publica
Jacob Bogage, Washington Post
Nicole Auerbach, The Athletic
Myron Medcalf, ESPN
Michael Lee, The Athletic
Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News
Chad Finn, Boston Globe
Ted Jackson, photojournalist
Bruce Arthur, Toronto Star
Special prizes for top high school finishers.