2025 Hawaii Journalist of the Year Application Information



Each year Hawaii recognizes a student Journalist of the Year. The student must be a senior who has been involved in student journalism for at least one year. The journalist could work/have worked for their school newspaper, yearbook, broadcast media, literary magazine, podcast, social media…. The student does not have to be involved in student journalism during their senior year. What matters is that they have evidence of work in rubric categories from at least one year of student journalism.

One school can have as many entrants as they want.

If you are not yet a senior, you can start preparing. McKinley High School’s student newspaper adviser requires her students who are not seniors to create a portfolio using Google Slides each quarter to collect evidence.


The student must write a Personal Narrative and provide evidence of work in the following three categories:  Reporting/Writing, Editing/Leadership/Teamwork, and Law/Ethics/News Literacy, plus evidence from one choice category. Evidence for more than one of the choice categories can earn the student extra points.

Here is a link to the HiJOY rubric.


Jan. 20, 2025. The online entry form is located here.


The evidence must be presented in a digital format. It can be a slideshow. It can be a website. Here is a slideshow template you can copy and use as is or modify or use as a planning document before starting your website. If you make a website, we suggest you create it with a personal email. In 2023, some students created a Google Site using a DOE gmail and it was not viewable to anyone outside the DOE. (The national contest coordinator’s suggestion is that a slideshow, while allowed, would probably not be competitive on the national level, so if you win HiJOY with a slideshow, you might consider converting it to a website before the Mar. 10 national deadline.)

The 2023 HiJOY winner submitted a slideshow. For the national contest, she transferred and added information to a website. Here is the portfolio of the HiJOY winners for 2022 (Mid-Pacific Institute) and 2021 (Kamehameha Maui.) *Please note that in 2022 and 2021, the HiJOY contest required evidence for ALL the categories. Many Hawaii student journalists and advisers said this was too much, so the requirements for HiJOY were modified starting in 2023. 

Here is a video showing how to use Wix, one option to create a portfolio. McKinley’s adviser created a Wix template for her students. If you would like access to that template, email [email protected] from your personal email account. Here is a video explaining how to use the template.


Hawaii’s chapter of the Asian American Journalist Association has sponsored HiJOY since 2022 and has committed for 2024 to provide a total of $400 to the HIJOY 2024 Contest if there are 6 or fewer participants. If there are 7+ participants, they will provide $500 total.

In 2022 and 2023, the HiJOY winner spoke at the spring Hawaii High School Journalism Awards ceremony. In 2023, the HiJOY winner and runner-up were also recognized in the Star Advertiser’s coverage of HHSJA.

The HiJOY winner can submit their portfolio to the national Journalism Education Association’s Journalist of the Year contest. The national competition application requires a transcript, three letters of recommendation, a resume, an action photo of the applicant involved in some aspect of student media, and the link to the digital portfolio of their work. The adviser must be a member of the Journalism Education Association

The HiJOY winner is not required to add more categories to their portfolio but doing so will increase competitiveness because each category can earn up to seven points. Here is the rubric for the national contest. Please share the final portfolio to [email protected] Mar. 9 by 7:30 a.m. for a final check. The national deadline is Mar. 10, at 11:59 Central time. Here is a link to a national JOY winner’s portfolio. The national winner gets $5000 and four runners-up each get $1000.


Email [email protected] with any questions.

For advice videos from JEA on building the portfolio, go hereRemember that HiJOY does not require evidence in all the categories on the national rubric.