The Growing Use of Technology in UIL Journalism


Autumn Copeland, News Writers

The large auditorium-sized classroom at UT Austin is filled with students from all parts of Texas ready to compete in the journalism UIL state competition. 10 minutes before they began, lines of people carrying laptops and printers frantically piled into the testing room to set up their equipment. They were rushed to seats that provided them with easy access to wall outlets and anything else they needed. In the far right corner of the room, however, sat the handful of students who brought paper, pencils, and a book or two.

The ever advancing world of technology plays an important role in journalism and UIL competitions. For journalism events such as News Writing, Feature Writing, and Editorial Writing, a computer and printer have become an optimal medium to compete with while paper and pencil are beginning to be seen as outdated and inferior.

In terms of UIL competitions, the preference for printers over paper is acceptable but when students are in the field, will they be able to haul around their burly equipment bags? They might only have a pen or pencil and whatever kind of paper they can find. The most efficient form of technology they will have with them is a mobile phone. 

Each journalist is different and has their own preference when writing and the UIL competition accommodates those certain preferences by allowing testers to choose between computers and pencils.

“Typing just helps me get my thoughts out better than writing because you can go back and it’s easier, I think- I feel like it’s quicker. I can type way faster than I can write and I don’t think my writing is legible either,” Lian Boone from Lindale High School (4A) said. 

Jesika Miller from Lindale High School also prefers computers because handwriting is “a hassle”. 

“I feel like we think our thoughts way faster than we can handwrite, so it’s way easier on the computer,” Miller said. 

For other students, they might like typing better than writing but printing is an inconvenience. 

“I’ve done UIL competitions before and I really prefer that they just have a printer there and I connect to it and print it. The printing is just that one minute at the end where you just have to get it out because they require a hard copy,” Amoli Agarwal from Westwood High School (6A) said.

When doing things like conducting interviews, Agarwal actually has a method other than writing or typing that she likes to use. 

“I prefer recording because it’s always easier to get exactly what they say and to make it as journalistically ethical as possible when you have exactly what they say. With a notebook, there’s always some bias involved because there’s only so much you can have written down,” Agarwal said. 

There are people who prefer to use paper and pencil when they are competing, however. 

“Whenever I hear people around me start to print, I get a little distracted. I feel like I have to hurry up and finish since I can tell everyone around me is done already,” Autumn Copeland from Devine High School (4A) said. 

Copeland does not like using computers to write during UIL competitions because she does not trust that everything will go according to plan.

“I also just can’t rely on the computer and printer because so much can go wrong with them, and I’ve seen it happen in the testing room before too,” Copeland said. 

UIL aims to help young people prepare for careers in their respective academic interests. Journalism is always changing and technology has had a significant effect on news writing and news consumption. If UIL competitions end up promoting technology-only writing events, will competitors be ready for a career in journalism?