UNC's Hussman School of Journalism and Media won its 11th Hearst Journalism Awards Championship. Four students and recent Hussman journalism school graduates won individual national championships.
The students won national championships in writing, photojournalism, multimedia and audio categories.
Rising senior Angelina Katsanis won the national championship in photojournalism, while Maddie Ellis, Jayda Williams and Lucas Pruitt – all recent graduates – won in writing, audio and multimedia respectively.
Recent Hussman graduates Chris Ocana and Angelica Edwards placed second and third in the multimedia category. Ocana won “Best Story of the Year” in multimedia.
Edwards explained that she chose to do a story in the multimedia category about a person that was trying to open up coffee shops in marginalized communities.
"The J-School has a really high standard for visual journalism and our professors are really demanding and pushing us," Edwards said.
Rising senior Lauren Cmiel, and recent graduates Daniel Myrick and Elizabeth Moore were all finalists in the competition — Cmiel in multimedia, Myrick in audio and Moore in writing.
The nine UNC students accounted for almost one-third of all the students in the nation who were invited to the competition, which was in San Fransisco from May 20 to 25.
Myrick said his professor, Adam Hochberg, selected him and Williams to submit radio stories for the audio category.
He says during the competition, he was given three days to work on a story using a prompt. Myrick chose to do his story on how single room occupancies are helping to provide affordable housing for the homeless in San Fransisco.
Myrick said a lot of the success UNC has had in the Hearst awards can be attributed to Hussman's Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Charlie Tuggle and former Hussman Dean Susan King.
Tuggle noted that five Hussman faculty members, including himself, emphasize the competition to their students and push them to do the best they can: Hochberg, Chad Heartwood, Patrick Davison and John Robinson.
Tuggle focuses on television, Hochberg on radio and Robinson on writing, while Heartwood and Davison both focus on multimedia and photo.
He said all five of them have worked in high levels of the journalism industry, have a good understanding of what the Hearst judges are looking for and know what constitutes excellence.
Tuggle said that they chose two Hussman students to submit work to compete in each category in the Hearst competition.
He added that he chooses students who excel in class and create stories with a strong arc, an interesting central character and a great story flow.
“If you have fire in the belly, meaning you're passionate about what you're doing, you're going to put in the necessary hard work and blood, sweat and tears," Tuggle said. "You just have to keep pushing and working with your subjects."
Edwards said she believes future competitors will learn in the competition how to “hit the ground running and pivot quickly if something isn't working."
Heidi Hennink-Kaminski, the interim dean of the Hussman school, said the school's championship is a testament to many of the students' work over the past year, and is a measure of the depth of excellence of Hussman's students.
“If future students look for lessons they can learn from this year’s Hearst national champions, I’d encourage them to recognize and value the common thread of humanity, humility and respect in what stories they choose to tell and how they lift the voices of others in their storytelling," Hennink-Kaminski said.
Editor's Note: Katsanis and Cmiel work for The Daily Tar Heel. Ellis, Pruitt, Ocana, Edwards, Myrick and Moore are DTH alumni.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.