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UA School of Journalism awards $1,000 for Mark Finley Gold Pen Award

Courtesy Rocky Baier
Journalism sophomore and Daily Wildcat reporter, Rocky Baier, won first place in the UA School of Journalism’s Mark Finley Gold Pen Award on Nov. 28.

Some of the University of Arizona Journalism School’s best beginning writers took part in the fall 2017 Mark Finley Gold Pen Award competition Tuesday, Nov. 28. Each semester, students enrolled in Journalism 205 are selected by their professors to participate. 

Journalism student and Daily Wildcat reporter Rocky Baier was awarded first place. Fellow Daily Wildcat reporters Zachary Ogden and Owen Zerambo were awarded second and third place, respectively. 

Each year, the students are given one hour to write an article following a simulated press conference with a prominent member of the Tucson community. 

Previous guests brought in for the Finley competition include Tucson Unified School District Board Member Adelita Grijalva, Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik and others.

          Related Article: UA School of Journalism, Law College to host Make Media Law Great Again talk

For the this year’s competition, Richard Elías, Supervisor of Pima County’s District 5, spoke with participants about the state of roads and taxes in Pima County. 

The judges of the event were Professor Susan Knight, Professor Jeannine Relly, and adjunct staff members Tom Beal and Brett Fera.

Students who wrote the top three best articles were awarded scholarship money. First place is awarded $1,000, second place $750 and third place $500.

“I started jotting down words and then ideas, then I started writing down quotes. I was mashing together things as quickly as I could and wrote down everything that I wanted to say,” Baier said, explaining her process during the contest while having to write against a time limit.

Baier said she did not have time for her standard procedures to write an article, so she just wrote and hoped for the best. 

“It was a good experience for everybody and it was fun,” Baier said. “And I met a lot of people in the program I’d never met before.”

For Ogden, the challenge was finding the right angle for a story within the interview. 

“In this case, while listening to Elías I figured out an angle for the article,” he explained. “I really listened carefully for any important information for that angle, and wrote that information down in a specific part of my notes so that I could go back to those quickly and write the article faster.”

As far as the prize money, Baier already had a few ideas in mind. 

“I really want to get a drone, and let everyone in the Wildcat use it for journalism things,” she said. “A drone is really expensive, so if I could use this money to purchase something that would not only help me, but my peers in journalism, that would make me feel really good.”

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Baier’s advice to other journalism students was to join the Daily Wildcat, participate in an internship and get experience in the field.

Ogden added to that. “Practice writing articles and eventually it’ll become automatic,” he said.

The three winners will be honored at the School of Journalism’s Just Desserts event in May, according to the School of Journalism’s website.

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