The Bristol Press

February 25, 2002

National award handed out to The Tattoo

The teen writers whose work appears in The Tattoo – published in The Bristol Press on occasional Mondays – recently captured a national award from the Suburban Newspapers of America.

The journalism group picked The Tattoo as its first-place award-winner for "Best Young People’s Coverage" in any of the 2,000 newspapers that belong to the Michigan-based organization.

"It’s a great experience for kids," said Joe Keo, a Bristol Eastern High School freshman who joined The Tattoo last fall.

The Tattoo, which appears on page A8 today, is written mostly by teens from area schools, but it also includes student writers from as far away as Singapore and Pakistan. It aims to cover news interesting to young people while adhering to high journalistic standards.

The Suburban Newspapers contest drew more than 1,100 entries to create what the group called an "extremely competitive" field for its annual contest. The work must have been published in the year ending Oct. 15, 2001.

Winners will be recognized this week at the Suburban Newspaper Association’s awards banquet in Miami Beach.

Judges included editors, reporters, photographers and publishers who "spent two grueling days reading, comparing and evaluating all of the entries," according to the contest organizers.

The judges based their decision on "the use of artwork and photographs, general appeal to young readers, quality of writing, news and informational value."

The Tattoo, now in its eighth year, published a dozen issues during 2001 that covered everything from the X Trials competition held by ESPN at Lake Compounce to an interview with U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman about his views on school violence.

"What makes The Tattoo shine among all of the others is our creativity," said Sam Yosafi, a junior at Eastern.

"We're not all uptight over writing a perfect story," he said, and at the group’s weekly meetings "we help each other out and give some far out suggestions that really complement our personalities and our writing style. It's really a group effort."

One of its veteran writers, Eastern freshman Katie Jordan, said she convinced Keo to join The Tattoo after football season.

"Football is stupid," she told him. "Why not join The Tattoo?"

Danielle Letourneau, a Bristol Central High School freshman, said she also signed on at Jordan’s urging.

"I’ve liked to write ever since fourth grade," she said, when a teacher admired her creativity and writing prowess.

As journalists working for The Tattoo, teen writers have soared over Bristol in balloons and even the Hood blimp, interviewed a Hollywood star, chatted with skateboard legend Tony Hawk, attended the 1996 presidential debate in Hartford and much more.

Teen writers for the group work with advisors Steve Collins and Jackie Majerus, veteran Press reporters who each put in hundreds of volunteer hours every year to teach aspiring journalists the the craft and to help them gain self-confidence by interviewing and getting the opportunity to make a difference.

The Tattoo is not connected to any particular school. It has students from Central, Eastern, St. Paul Catholic High School, Avon High School and others.

Within the area, it has attracted members in the past from Terryville High School, Torrington High School and Miss Porter’s School in Farmington.

The Tattoo’s work for 2001 – as well as nearly all the stories it has run in more than 60 issues – are available on its web site at

Young people with an interest in journalism are encouraged to join The Tattoo, which is free to participants and meets weekly at the Press. Contact Majerus or Collins at 523-9632 or at for information.

In addition to the Suburban Newspapers’ award, The Tattoo has garnered eight first-place awards from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists since 1998; 27 National Gold Key awards from the National Newspaper Association and the Quill and Scroll Society since 1997; 15 Scholastic Press Forum awards since 1999; and a Distinguished Service Award from the Connecticut Committee for Youth Suicide Prevention in 1997.

Many of its student writers have won scholarships to college and nearly all of them have found the experience helpful in winning acceptance to college.

Read the story at The Bristol Press web site

Click here for more about The Tattoo's awards