For the 14th News Decoder Storytelling Competition, the winning stories tackled human trafficking, river conservation and climate change.

News Decoder storytelling contest winners

In its first year of working with News Decoder, the Tatnall School in the U.S. state of Delaware took both first and second prizes in the 14th News Decoder Storytelling Competition. Also recognized by the three-judge panel were students from Realgymnasium Rämibühl Zürich, School Year Abroad and the European School of Brussels II.

The entries tackled the topics of human trafficking, environmental conservation, climate change, local empowerment and youth identity. First Prize went to Sabria Streett of Tatnall for her story, Speed bumps on the human trafficking highway.

Second Prize went to Annette Khosravi of Tatnall for her story From caviar to conservation: Saving the Atlantic sturgeon. Third Prize went to Luis Eberl of Realgymnasium Rämibühl Zürich for his story Shoring up snow where the mountains touch the sky about what scientists are doing to try to stop snow from disappearing in the Alps.

Keya Dutt and Lusha Greer, who spent last year at School Year Abroad Italy, received Honorable Mention for their article: By refusing to pay, Sicilians keep the Mafia away about how the business community in Sicily had banded together to stop paying protection money to the mafia. Dutt won Honorable Mention for a second submission: Studying an intelligent animal using artificial intelligence about a scientist who studies humpback whales off the coast of Africa.

Finally, Marta Jansone of European School of Brussels II was awarded Honorable Mention for Where you call home which explored what it is like for students who must move from country to country and navigate different languages and cultures.

Journalists judge a next generation storytellers

The winners were selected by a three-person jury that included Nelson Graves, the founder and board president of News Decoder; Susanne Courtney, a freelance writer and News Decoder correspondent based in Canada who specializes in international affairs and finance; and Nicole DiSante, an educator in Marseille, France who runs Our City Arts, an organization for youth focusing on podcasting, digital storytelling and urban arts and who was a former communications intern for News Decoder.

The stories by Streett and Khosravi both came out of a class taught by Tatnall teacher Caroline Simpson, in which students, working with News Decoder, were tasked to find, report and write about something that was happening locally that also had global relevance. Of Streett’s winning entry, the judges noted its “excellent sourcing”, “good use of quotes” and the importance of its topic.

“Both Annette and Sabria demonstrated the qualities of seasoned journalists,” Simpson said. “They have a passion and curiosity for local issues. They have great communication skills which served them well during their interviews. And they had the grit and patience to persevere through the drafting process.”

Of Khosravi’s story about a group of people trying to save the Atlantic sturgeon from extinction, the judges noted that it was a “well written and interesting article with multiple view points” that was well-researched.

All the winning articles were the culmination of News Decoder’s signature pitch-report-draft-revise process, in which students work with News Decoder editors to find a local story with global resonance, find and interview an expert on the subject, write an article and then revise that story a number of times to ensure that it includes multiple perspectives and depth.

“It is more important than ever that students learn to recognize multiple perspectives and see how problems and solutions connect globally,” said Marcy Burstiner, editorial news director for News Decoder. “Problems like climate change, species loss and human trafficking cross borders.”

The contest is held two times a year in honor of the late Arch Roberts Jr., who served with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna after more than 12 years as a staff member with the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. With the backing of an anonymous donor, News Decoder was able to award a total of $800 in cash prizes to this year’s winners.

To be considered for the contest, an entry must have been written by one or more students enrolled in a News Decoder partner institution. In this iteration of the contest, 41 students submitted entries.

Learn more about News Decoder’s school partnership program.

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EducationSaving people, fish and Alpine snow: Our story contest winners