On a night in early March, yearbook editor Maddy Stout jumped out of her bed and dashed to her parents room, screaming all the way that she had just won Arkansas Journalist of the Year.
“I was just so excited. I actually was so loud that I woke up my brother whose room is across the hall. I just felt like everything I had done the past three years was validated,” Stout said. “I am pursuing journalism in college, so I just remember feeling like I am doing what I am supposed to with my life and that I am going down the right path.”
Stout had awaited the final announcement for about a week after submitting the labor intensive application.
“There were 13 sections that I had to have with my portfolio. Everything from my own writing and photos to how I edit other people’s work and lead my staff,” Stout said. “I also had to illustrate my knowledge of law and ethics. It was definitely a learning process because some sections such as the second website and multimedia broadcasting was all new to me. I had to figure out how to do podcasts and create a website.”
Stout is the first Har-Ber Media student to ever win the state award.
“She’s the first to win. She’s also the first one of my students to apply. So we are one-for-one! Maddy sets the bar in whatever she does, so she is the perfect example of what other yearbook editors should strive to be,” journalism advisor Karla Sprague said. “She’s well-rounded in her skill set when it comes to the production of the yearbook. She is good at it all.”
Sprague stated that the role she played in the process was encouraging Stout to apply for the award.
“I encouraged her to stay optimistic. Maddy is highly motivated and focused when it comes to completing projects she is passionate about, so I didn’t have to do much,” Sprague said. “I simply reassured her that she was qualified and talented.”
According to Stout, some may be surprised with the part of the application process that she found most difficult.
“Surprisingly, the hardest part was the candidate background. You are kinda supposed to brag about yourself here and it was just kinda tough,” Stout said. “It’s also the first thing the judges see and I wanted to catch their attention.”
Stout thanks family, friends, and her advisor for helping her and assuaging any doubt through the waiting process of the application process.
“The waiting period after I submitted everything was pure torture. I had to wait about a week before I would find out. During this time it was easy for my insecurities about the portfolio to occupy my mind. It was just super easy to be like ‘oh I should have done that better’ instead of being proud of my work,” Stout said. “Thanks to family, friends, and Mrs. Sprague though I was able to distract myself from thinking about it.”
Stout now awaits the final step of the competition.
“The next step in nationals and I won’t figure out about that until April 18 so hopefully that goes well,” Stout said.