Read a new AAN article saluting JFP contributing editor Ayana Taylor, who was an AAN diversity grant winner and was selected to attend the prestigious Academy for Alternative Journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in Chicago last summer. Ayana won first place in AAN's national awards for news writing/short form last month in San Diego.
AAN writes: Two AltWeekly Award winners this year have something in common—both Ayana Taylor and Michael Marsh attended the Academy for Alternative Journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in Chicago.
The academy, funded by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and its Alternative Newsweekly Foundation, is a six-week summer program that sends 10 people a year to the streets of Chicago, each one assigned to write a well-researched feature story. The academy teaches students how to pick story ideas, structure stories, and tighten writing, and it apparently teaches skills necessary for award-winning writing.
"The main thing they taught me was what an interesting story is, not just to myself but to whatever my target audience would be," Taylor said.
Taylor won first place in the News Story—Short Form category for her stories that appeared in Jackson Free Press. She was an AAN Diversity Intern at the Free Press before going to the academy. (Abraham Mahshie, who was part of a team at the San Antonio Current that won first place in the Media Reporting/Criticism category, was also a diversity intern.) Taylor attended the academy in Summer 2004 shortly after graduating from Tougaloo College in Mississippi.
"The pieces that were chosen all had at least one twist to them, and that's also something you learn from the academy—how to find that interesting, quirky, different element," Taylor said.
BTW, if you look right now, Ayana's picture is on the front page of AAN's site. Ayana has made quite an impression nationally in the alt world. We're very proud of our Tougaloo grad. Way to represent, 'yana!
Just saw a very cool photo of Ayana on the AAN site from the San Diego convention, when she was there representin' the JFP with style:
(They gave the first-place award winners in <50,000 category a tacky tall karate-kickin-ass trophy in addition to sophisticated round sculpture things. She's pictured with hers. Over-5,000 winners got tiny cheerleader trophies, apparently.)