International young writer panellists Daniel and Danielle Stott
The 'Panellists Commission' follows on this month after the 'Awards Commission' report for the Press Service International young writer program which functions in conjunction with Christian Today.
The Awards Commission took submissions over several months so as to establish a 2018 protocol as to how the panellists allocate points and the nature of the awards.
It was telegraphed that in October a Panellists Commission would be established whereby some of the issues relating to the nature of the young writer program might be clarified.
Chair of the Panellists Commission, Bishop Brian Carrell says: “We as a group are seeking to clarify the tasks, goals and procedures for each aspect of the Young Writers' programme – a necessary and helpful strengthening of a maturing project such as this.”
Australian young writer panellist Dr Vic Matthews
These are some of the issues -
Every young writer needs to be marked to determine their 'Best Article'.
Part-time option for Panellists as some Panellists are very busy, 3 of the 5 Cycles
The number of Panellists has been 6, is this too many?
Former young writers as Panellists, 11 of the 23 in 2017
How panellists might offer 'helpful comment' to young writers
Australian young writer panellist retired Barrister Gavin Lawrie
To unpick some of these
All articles marked
The 'Best Article' awards were established in 2014 and are a favourite by the young writers to learn what the Panellists considered as their 'best article'.
The problem arose with one panellist who complained they were marking articles that had been tweaked (updated) from a previous article and refused to mark them. This in turn complicated the 'Best Article' allocations.
The Panellist Commission has been asked to clarify this situation.
Part Time Panellists
This has worked well for those Panellists who are extremely busy and instead of marking all of the 5 week Cycles for 6 months has a work load reduced to 3 Cycles. We have Panellists who so enjoy their task they would mark the articles under water.
In 2017 we had four part time panellists.
Australian Panellists - there were 2
International Panellists - there were 2
New Zealand Panellists - there was 1
The number of Panellists
There is history here - in 2013-14 the young writer numbers were small and there were 6 panellists who marked everyone.
As from 2015 four sets of Panellists were introduced - Australian, New Zealand, International and the Sport writer panellists.
We have been blessed to have found 6 separate people for each group. That is no easy task, especially for the Australian Panellists who are marking 4 Weeks out of five in each of the five Cycles being marked.
One question has been to separate the Australian panellists into two groups, one group marks Cycles 1-3 and the second group marks Cycles 4-5. This has only come up due to the heavy work load.
New Zealand young writer panellist Liz Hay
Former young writers as Panellists
In 2017 of the 23 panellists, 11 were former young writers and this trend is set to continue. The Panellists Commission is able to reflect on this.
The publishing Cycles are set out as follows
Week 1 - the international young writers
Weeks 2-5 - Australian young writers
CTNZ - the NZ Panellists mark the Kiwi young writers submitting fresh articles so as not to be confused with previously published CT Aust articles. These are collated in the first three weeks of each Cycle and sent to the NZ Panellists as a collation of articles.
The Sport Panellists have one article a week to mark.
How panellists might offer 'wisdom'
A logistics discussion is offered as to how this might happen. In the past we have had young writers leave the program well over zealous panellists gave their 'two penneth'. Finding additional volunteers to do some tasks is no easy feat.
We have an Australian and a New Zealand statistician. The Australian statistician receives the marks at the end of each week, otherwise it becomes a bog's breakfast. This has worked well to date.
The Awards Commission
Released last month, the Awards Commission finalised the age groups, 18-30 for the Basil Sellers Awards and the over 30's for a separate award. Australian Panellist retired barrister Gavin Lawrie has volunteered his energies to listing those each year turning 31.
Australian young writer panellists Vicki Nunn, and editor of SPAG
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at