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The Daily Tar Heel

Hussman School takes home fifth consecutive Hearst national championship

A Hearst Award is displayed in Carroll Hall on Friday, June 9, 2023.

UNC's Hussman School of Journalism and Media won the overall national championship in collegiate journalism at the 2023 Hearst Journalism Awards on June 7. This is the school's fifth consecutive national championship win. 

The school secured the award by accumulating the highest number of points in monthly journalism competitions from 1,303 nationwide submissions of student work in the past year. It competed against more than 100 other undergraduate colleges and universities with accredited journalism programs for the title.

"This national championship confirms what we already know to be true," Raul Reis, the dean of the Hussman School, said in an email. "We have the most accomplished and dedicated student body in the country." 

The Hussman School also finished first overall in the multimedia category, second in writing, fourth in audio and television and sixth in photojournalism.

Three Hussman students won Hearst Awards at the individual championship finals in San Francisco, Calif. Sophie Mallinson, a recent Hussman graduate, won first place in the audio category of the individual national championship and described the experience as "surreal."

Mallinson said the finalists received their prompts a week before the award ceremony, but they only had a few days to gather media for their stories.

"Once we were in San Francisco we had from Saturday evening until Tuesday at 5 p.m. to do everything," Mallinson said.

Photo courtesy of Sophie Mallinson. Sophie Mallinson won first place in the audio category of the Hearst Journalism awards for her audio story on the AI-powered program Litterbug.

The students in the individual championship finals were given the same prompt for their projects — artificial intelligence in the Bay Area.

Mallinson's audio story was about a new AI-powered program called Litterbug, which aimed to identify and categorize litter. 

She said the developers want to incorporate this software into an app that people could use to identify litter while driving or biking.

“So, their goal is really to create a really thorough database, essentially, of litter," she said.

Brianna Atkinson, another recent Hussman graduate, placed third in the audio category of the individual national championships. She said she was "ecstatic" about winning a Hearst Award.

"At the dinner, my heart was beating out of my chest when the judges were going up to announce the audio category," she said.

Photo courtesy of Brianna Atkinson. Brianna Atkinson placed third in the audio category at the Hearst Journalism Awards for her audio story about artificial intelligence in the fishing industry.

Atkinson's audio story was about the use of artificial intelligence in the fishing industry. AI technology has been used for a process called electronic monitoring, which helps fishers know their fish count and which species have a catch limit.

She said that she joined a fishing trip early one morning to get interviews and sound for her project.

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Angelina Katsanis, another recent Hussman graduate, was awarded second place in the multimedia category of the individual national championships. She also took home the Hearst Award for Best Multimedia Story of the Year.

Photo courtesy of Jakob Mosur. Angelina Katsanis took second place in the multimedia category of the Hearst Journalism Awards individual national championships. She also won the Hearst Award for Best Multimedia Story of the Year.

In addition, two Hussman students were finalists for the awards. J'sha Gift was a runner-up in the individual photojournalism category, and Alasdair McNinch was a runner-up in the individual writing category.

"It makes us extremely proud to see our students’ talent and hard work recognized at the highest levels," Reis said.

Students won up to $10,000 as the winners of their individual championships. For their overall win, the Hussman School received $25,000.

Charlie Tuggle, the senior associate dean for undergraduate studies at the journalism school, said that while the Hearst Awards do not measure all of the excellence in the school, it is an important competition that journalism professors want their students to take seriously.

"Everybody wants to do well in Hearst," Tuggle said. "Because there are no specific rankings of schools of journalism and media." 

Reis said that earning a Hearst Award will take students far in their journalism careers.

"At the Hearst Awards dinner, they reminded us of the amazing accomplishments of some of the previous recipients," Reis said. "Which includes receiving Pulitzers, Emmys and Peabody awards, among other honors, as professional journalists. That was very inspiring and gratifying for us and for the Hussman students who attended."

Editor's Note: Brianna Atkinson and Angelina Katsanis are former staffers at The Daily Tar Heel. 


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