Youth Wins The Day … And Our B2B Writing Award

The ASBPE Foundation‘s second annual student-writing-award collaboration with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) resulted in Canadian journalism student Virginia Sexsmith winning for an article she wrote about the troubled profession of print copy-editing.

“Gin,” as she’s known, is a recent graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto, where the same journalism program produced the ASBPE-AEJMC Student B2B Writing Award winner last year, Daniel Viola.

Gin’s winning article, titled “Endangered Species,” also brings her a $100 honorarium and a year’s ASBPE membership. Like Daniel Viola’s last year, the article was published in the Ryerson Review of Journalism. It examined quality and other problems associated with the spread of “copy mills,” which have taken over much of the newspaper editing function at North American publications in recent years.

From Deseronto, Ontario, Gin was mostly interested in creative-writing pursuits like poetry, short stories and lyrics before she decided on journalism at Ryerson. Now, she hopes to get a copyediting job: one of the very positions she’s been describing as in trouble. She also could pursue freelance jobs—or start a novel. Gin also is deeply involved in music, and is the lead singer of a band she started with her brother, appropriately called Sexsmith.

The writing competition judges, who reviewed 13 entries in the business-press category this year, loved her story. It “aptly describes the decline of the copy editor and the implications for newsrooms and news,” one judge said. “How this lack of emphasis on copy editing is causing a stark reduction in standards quality and morale at newspapers is well researched and described in this article. It leaves the reader pondering the implications of cost cutting and declining standards not just for the newspaper industry but for other businesses as well.”

Announced July 26 at ASBPE’s national conference, the award is part of a drive at our organization and the Foundation to impress college students with the quality—and relative quantity—of job opportunities in the B2B world. Teachers need a better understanding of this, and the award raises the profile in their eyes, since AEJMC is the main organization for the very journalism academics who need to have their image of B2B improved. The Student B2B Writing competition fits nicely with ASBPE’s Young Leaders Program, and with the Foundation’s drive to encourage ASBPE members to visit journalism classrooms and spread the word among students.

Roy Harris, currently the president of the ASBPE Foundation and a former national president of ASBPE, has worked for CFO Magazine, and has served as editorial director of He is a former Wall Street Journal reporter.

Roy Harris

Roy Harris is a semi-retired newspaper and magazine journalist who continues to write for, and to write freelance. Previously he was a reporter and deputy bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal from 1971 to 1995; senior editor at The Economist Group’s CFO Magazine from 1996 to 2009; and editor of IDG’s from 2010 to 2016. He is the author of “Pulitzer’s Gold: A Century of Public Service Journalism,” published by Columbia U. Press in 2015.

A longtime ASBPE member and former president of the ASBPE National Board of Directors, he helped found the ASBPE Educational Foundation, as well as the Stephen Barr Award, ASBPE’s top feature-writing prize. Harris was an ASBPE Lifetime Achievement Award honoree in 2016.

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