Pa. high schooler wins JEA Journalist of the Year award

PENNSYLVANIA — The Journalism Education Association announcedhigh school senior Henry Rome as the winner of the Journalist of the Yearscholarship at its spring convention in Phoenix this April.

Rome, editor-in-chief of the Spoke at Conestoga High School inBerwyn, Pa., began his journalism career when we was 8-years-old by writing ashort newsletter for his neighbors that eventually reached over 100 subscribers.Since then he has continued to expand his journalistic resume.

In 2003 at 13 he was chosen as a TIME For Kids reporter and coveredthe Republican National Convention in 2004. He interviewed Sen. John McCain,appeared on CNN and was a guest on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

Since then he has worked as a commentator for the Cape Cod Baseball Leaguefor the local TV station, a reporter and producer at National Public Radio inMassachuesttes and as a reporter for the Cape Cod Times. He has hadseveral stories on page A1 at the paper and a couple of pieces air on NPR.

“The enthusiasm of the reporters and editors at an NPR station I worked forover the summer, as well as at the Cape Cod Times daily newspaper, pushed me todelve further into journalism, trying everything from feature stories toinvestigations,” Rome said in an e-mail.

Adviser Susan Houseman points to Rome’s leadership qualities aseditor-in-chief as the reason for the Spoke‘s popularity.

“I have come to view Henry as more than a student: he is a journalisticcolleague who has a mature understanding of press freedom and the obligation ofthe student media to inform and enlighten,” Houseman said in an e-mail. “Henryis undaunted by setbacks; the combination of his intelligence and tenacity makehim an effective reporter whose work is held in high esteem by the student bodyand the school’s staff.”

Even Rome’s principal, Dr. Amy Meisinger, holds the young journalist inhigh regards and credits him for one of the best high school reporting piecesshe’s seen. In a recent interview Meisinger said she was “thrilled aboutHenry’s leadership as an editor. He has brought a quality to our paperthat has been superb.”

Rome says his experience as a student journalist — as both the editorfor newspaper, and an anchor and producer for the daily live morning broadcast — has encouraged him to stick with journalism as he goes on to college.

“I’ve learned the power of the press to inform and effect change in acommunity and also the value of a strong team effort that puts a newspaper or aTV program together,” Rome said.

The Journalist of the Year award is chosen from the state winners. Thewinner receives a $5,000 scholarship, and several runners-up are awarded $2,000scholarships. For a full list of winners, check here.

Kate Maternowski, SPLC staff writer, contributed to this article.