Win a Contest, Get a Mentor

Seems like every week, someone sends me a contest they want shared with my students. They all talk about how great it would be if they win, the exposure! The fame! They never talk about how every submission becomes the property of the company sponsoring the contest, though.

110419 upiuThis one is different, though – UPIU is running a story idea competition, centered around healthcare reporting. If you win, you’ll get $100 – which, to be honest, is kind of ridiculous. What intrigues me is not what “byline-hungry journalism students” make in cash, but the idea that if your story pitch wins, you’ll be paired up with a mentor to work through the story.

I am all about mentors. I had a great one when I was in college, a guy who let me show him tons of work, took me on assignment with him, gave me ridiculous shooting projects to help focus my seeing. He became a very good friend and, eventually, we went into business together. (Which, for the record, was an incredibly stupid venture – but we were arrogant enough on our own to think that, together, there was no way we could fail. Which we did, spectacularly.)

So maybe this is something you should think about and, even if it’s not, should prompt you to go find a mentor. Just don’t go into business with them …

Mark E. Johnson

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