Essay/Scholarship Contest

The 2017 Urban Journalism Workshop essay contest is open to graduating seniors, who have successfully completed all requirements of the UJW program during Spring 2017 and will enroll in an accredited college or university in Fall 2017.  The winner will be awarded a $1500 scholarship.

To be considered, applicants must complete the following essay question in 500 words or less by 10 June 2017 6:00pm and provide the following information:

  • Proof of acceptance to college or university (acceptance letter)
  • Final UJW story or script 

Essay Question

A U-S military airstrike on a building in Mosul, Iraq killed 105 civilians during an attack in March this year and 36 others are still missing. The attack was intended to take out two Islamic State snipers.  The commander says the deaths were accidental and a 2-month investigation by the Pentagon finds the strike set off an explosion that destroyed the structure.  Investigators conclude that’s because Islamic State fighters had stored explosives in the building.  The report says Iraq and the United States did not know civilians were there despite surveillance.   In January, shortly after President Trump was inaugurated, civilians were killed, including an 8-year old child, during a military raid in Yemen to kill a senior Al-Qaeda collaborator. A Doctors Without Borders hospital was mistakenly hit in Afghanistan, in October 2015, killing 22 people.

The U-S military says it takes pre-cautions to minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties, but they are still happening and likely will continue as long as there is conflict and the rules of engagement include urban areas.  What can be done to eliminate or significantly reduce civilian casualties?  Should there be consequences for those responsible? Why or why not? If yes, what would they be?  How should victims’ families and survivors be compensated?  Should funds be given to rebuild what physical structures are destroyed?

Essays and supporting documents must be submitted to by Saturday, 10 June 2017 no later than 6:00pm.  Incomplete applications and those submitted after the deadline are ineligible. Winners will be notified at the 17 June closing showcase ceremony.  If winners are not present, they will be notified via email.




Scholarship winners will receive their awards in time for the second semester of the 2017-18 school year after providing WABJ with all of the following:


  • a schedule of his or her first semester classes
    • a letter from the registrar as proof of enrollment
    • a copy of the award letter issued by WABJ.






 Applicants You Must:


  • Type essay, double-spaced, on one side of white 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper.

(scan printed essay or save as a PDF and send as an attachment)

  • Answer the essay contest question in a well-organized, well-reasoned essay

of 500 words (only count the body of the essay).

  • Include standardized citations and a bibliography. These are not included

   in the word count (500 or less).  The World Wide Web should not be the

only source for your essay; particularly wikapedia.  Be aware that you may

encounter “republished” or “third generation” information on the Internet that

is inaccurate or improperly attributed.  The use of books, magazines, and

newspapers are widely encouraged.

  • Address all parts of the essay contest topic.
  • Number the pages of the essay.


 Essays will be judged based on the following criteria:


  • Focus: An excellent essay provides specific and thorough responses to all

of the questions and/or tasks presented.

  • Organization: An excellent essay has an introduction, a body and a

conclusion. The organization includes an excellent thesis and moves the

reader through the text.

  • Analysis: In an excellent essay, all of the arguments are strong, well

detailed and well supported by convincing and accurate evidence.

  • Conclusions and Recommendations: An excellent essay provides a

coherent and comprehensive summary based on the analysis. All of the

solutions to the problems presented are specific and well thought out.

  • Style and Mechanics: An excellent essay uses standard writing

conventions correctly, e.g. grammar, spelling, and punctuation, with no



 An essay may be disqualified if:


  • It is not on the topic
  • Documents are incomplete or contain incorrect information
  • It plagiarizes—that is, uses someone else’s statements or ideas as your

own. (attribution must be given if using or quoting another author’s



Urban Journalism Workshop Essay Contest Guidelines


An essay is a three-part paper that presents and develops a position in response to the essay contest question.  Although researching the topic to find examples that support your points is crucial to writing your essay, it should be more than a research paper, a narrative description of an event, or a statement of opinion.


 Your essay should contain the following:


  • An introduction, which introduces the subject and contains an explanation of

your position. The objective is to demonstrate that you understand the

essay contest question and have formed a response to it.

  • A body, which develops your argument using research and analysis. The

process of analysis may include comparing and contrasting, differentiating

among several ideas or events, critiquing a variety of perspectives,

interpreting results, or drawing inferences.  For example, in this section you

could analyze at least two case studies.  Be sure to identify the sources of

your information or ideas.

  • A conclusion, which summarizes the research and analysis presented in the

essay and sets forth your conclusions.  Drawing on ideas already

presented, you should demonstrate that your conclusions support the

position you put forward in the opening paragraphs.  Your aim is to convince

the reader that your position is reasonable and valid.


Your essay should also include notes and a bibliography:


  • Reference notes (footnotes or endnotes) give the sources of your

information or ideas.  Footnotes are placed at the bottom of the page where

the information appears.  Alternatively, you may gather all the notes at the

end of the text as endnotes.

  • A bibliography is a list of the works that you have referred to in your essay

or have consulted in order to write it.  Typically an entry will have at least the

name of the author or editor, title of the work, and date and place of

publication.  The bibliography should be arranged alphabetically by the last

names of the authors.

  • Encyclopedias are not acceptable as sources.


Good luck!