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Cronkite Places First in Nation for Writing in Hearst Awards

June 25, 2020
Jack Harris, Jonah Hrkal and Dylan McKim

Jack Harris, Jonah Hrkal and Dylan McKim

Cronkite students placed first in the nation in the writing category of the prestigious Hearst Journalism Awards program, often referred to as the Pulitzers of college journalism.

Award-winning stories dealt with a wide range of issues, from the private language of surfers to the special challenges of fighting opioid addiction in rural America. Another winning story documented Peru’s effort to deal with the influx of immigrants from economically failing Venezuela.

The William Randolph Hearst Foundation holds yearlong contests for writing, radio and television, photojournalism and multimedia reporting. Journalism schools with the most points throughout the year are awarded prize money and their students win scholarships. More than 100 journalism schools around the country compete in the annual competition.

Following ASU, the other top five universities in writing for 2019-2020 are the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Oklahoma, Syracuse University and Pennsylvania State University.

In addition to the first-place writing award, Cronkite placed second in radio and television reporting and in photojournalism, and ninth in multimedia reporting.

“The results this year once again show that Cronkite students are among the strongest and best prepared in the country,” said Cronkite Interim Dean Kristin Gilger. “They led the nation in writing and had strong showings across all media platforms, which exactly matches our approach to teaching.”

Overall, the Cronkite school came in third nationally in the yearlong competition.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill finished first in this year’s competition, followed by Western Kentucky University.

Cronkite has placed in the top 10 in the Hearst Journalism Awards program for 19 consecutive years and has finished in the top five in 10 of those years.

Winning stories, videos and photos were published in or aired on Cronkite News, Arizona PBS, The Arizona Republic, the Los Angeles Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Reuters and the campus station Blaze Radio.

After the yearlong competition, three Cronkite students ¬– Jack Harris, Jonah Hrkal and Dylan McKim – were selected to compete in the 2019-2020 Hearst national championships held the first week of June, during which winners of the individual competitions faced off in a live competition that consisted of reporting, writing and producing stories. This year’s competition was held virtually.

McKim, a Cronkite senior, finished second in the national television championship and won a $7,500 scholarship.

Hrkal, a May 2020 Cronkite graduate, was a finalist in the national radio championship and earned $1,500. He works as an audio and podcast producer for ASU.

Harris, also a recent Cronkite graduate, was a finalist in the writing part of the competition and won $1,500. He graduated in May and is now a sports reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

May 2020 graduate Nicole Neri was a semi-finalist in the photojournalism category.

Cronkite students won a total of $15,000 in scholarships during the monthly and national competitions.

The Hearst results come at the end of a semester during which Cronkite students won their fifth Robert F. Kennedy Award and more national awards from the Society of Professional Journalists than any other journalism school in the country.

The last time the Cronkite School placed first nationally in the writing competition was in 1992. The school finished first in broadcasting six times between 1991 and 2011.

Here is a list of Cronkite students who placed in this year’s Hearst monthly competitions:

Enterprise Writing
Third: Lurissa Carbajal, “A long road: Opioid addicted rural residents,” Cronkite News
Fifth: Ethan Millman, “With Venezuela in turmoil, residents turn to Peru,” Cronkite News

Feature Writing
Second: Jack Harris, “Frothy to learn about surfing? Don’t be surf-stoked. The sport’s language really rips,” The Los Angeles Times
Seventh: Alexis Alabado, “A family affair: Father, son make mark as graffiti grows in acceptance," Cronkite News

Personality/Profile Writing
Ninth: Jack Harris, “Young, small, but mighty: Skateboarder Sky Brown shreds path toward Olympics," Los Angeles Times

Sports Writing
Sixth: Stephen Perez, “Scout’s honor: Despite trying schedules, baseball’s talent evaluators committed to craft,” Cronkite News

Multimedia Journalism – Individual
Enterprise- Individual
15th: Jennifer Alvarez, “Native American Suicide,” Cronkite News

Multimedia Journalism – Narrative Video Storytelling
14th: Kynan Marlin, "Blind Courage,” Cronkite News

Multimedia Journalism – News or Enterprise/Team
Ninth: Nicole Ludden, Julia Hernandez, Meg Potter, Erica Figueroa, “Death of a dream: Two responses to migrants who go missing in the desert,” Cronkite News

16th: Chloe Jones, Austin Westfall, Jonah Hrkal, Mia Armstrong, "A different border crisis: It’s not security or immigration, it’s about sewage,” Cronkite News

Photojournalism I: News and Features
Third: “Portfolio of Nicole Neri's work,” Cronkite News, The Arizona Republic, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Reuters
Ninth: “Portfolio of Meg Potter's work,” Cronkite News and The Arizona Republic

Radio News and Features
Sixth: Jonah Hrkal, “Gabe Trujillo Profile” and “Water Catchments,” Blaze Radio
Eighth: Emma Vandeneinde, “Vaping” and “Ride Sharing at Airport,” Blaze Radio

TV Feature
Seventh: Scotty Gange, "Amputation Inspires Runner and
Mobile Health Clinics,” Cronkite News
14th: Melanie Porter, “Mushrooms and Climate, Pelicans in AZ and Arizona Elk Management,” Cronkite News

TV News
Second: Dylan McKim, “"Firefighter Cancer and Wolf Diversity," Cronkite News

The Hearst Journalism Awards Program operates under the auspices of the accredited schools of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication. It is fully funded and administered by The William Randolph Hearst Foundation. Publisher William Randolph Hearst established the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and The Hearst Foundation, Inc. in the 1940s, a few years before his death in 1951. Since then, the foundations have awarded over $1 billion in grants and programs.