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IJEA Blog: IWPA encourages future communicators

In 1885 a group of female journalists in Chicago created the Illinois Woman's Press Association. More than 130 years later, IWPA is still going strong, and it's eager to support the next generation of journalists, regardless of gender. Read on to find out how IWPA can help you and your students!

September 26, 2016

The mission of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association has always been encouraging and supporting people who wanted careers in the communications fields.

cora-photo2When founded in 1885, the career opportunities for female journalists were few. In Chicago, 47 women decided to join together to create the Illinois Woman’s Press Association, an organization at whose heart was the encouragement of women journalists in their careers.

More than 130 years later, it continues providing its members — both women and men — the support they need to fulfill their professional goals.

The IWPA also encourages the next generation of communicators. One of IWPA’s most popular events is its annual High School Communications Contest. Students, both girls and boys, and advisors from public and private high schools across Illinois are encouraged to enter.

There are numerous categories falling under news (print and online); broadcast for web, video, TV and radio; and yearbooks. The contest is open to writers, editors, designers, photographers, web masters, broadcasters, designers, cartoonists and others.

In addition to honoring individual students, the IWPA High School Communications Contest also shines a spotlight on high school activities like newspapers, yearbooks and literature magazines. The school with the most first-place winners receives the IWPA Silver Pen Award, along with a cash prize.

Entries that receive first-place awards in the IWPA High School Communications Contest then compete at in the National Federation of Press Women’s High School Communications Contest.

There, Illinois students’ work competes against that of others high school students from around the country. First-place winners in the NFPW Contest receive cash prizes and the satisfaction of knowing that they are among the best high school communicators in the country.

It is IWPA’s desire that, by doing well locally and perhaps nationally, students will be encouraged to consider communication careers, have achievements for college or job applications, or have rewarding experiences they will always remember.

IWPA is very proud of its past and is equally proud of its future, and that of the communications field. Through motivation like the High School Communications Contest and other opportunities available students and educators, its desire is to nurture the next generation of communicators who will make great contributions to the profession as it continues evolving in the 21st century.

To learn more about the Illinois Woman’s Press Association and its High School Communications Contest visit iwpa.org.

Cora Weisenberger is IWPA’s High School Contest Chair. A long-time feature writer and editor, her work has appeared in publications produced by the Chicago Tribune, Rand McNally and M2Media360, among others. 

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