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Cronkite Student Wins 1st Place in National Hearst Awards

December 8, 2011

A student from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University has won first place in the feature writing competition of the national Hearst Journalism Awards Program.

Senior Weston Phippen, of Salt Lake City, Utah, was awarded the top prize for his story “Wrap ‘em up Tightly,” about a waiter who moonlights as a kidnapper for the Juárez cartel in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The story was published in Vice magazine and on vice.com.

Phippen earned a $2,600 scholarship and qualified for Hearst’s National Writing Championship in San Francisco in June. ASU will receive a matching grant.

Also placing in the competition was Cronkite senior Dustin Volz, of Lenni, Pa., who won sixth place for his story “Illegal Haitian Workers in Demand,” part of “Stateless in the Dominican Republic,” a multimedia reporting project by Cronkite students on the country’s immigration and border issues.

The wins put Cronkite in first place nationally after the first round of Hearst’s prestigious Intercollegiate Writing Competition. There were 134 entries from a record 73 universities in this round.

The Hearst Journalism Awards Program, often called the Pulitzer Prizes of collegiate journalism, consists of 14 intercollegiate competitions in writing, photojournalism, radio and television broadcast news and multimedia. The intercollegiate competitions culminate in the Hearst National Journalism Awards Championship, where the top finalists in each competition demonstrate their skills in on-the-spot assignments and compete for additional scholarship awards.

The program, administered by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, awards up to $500,000 in scholarships and grants annually.

The Cronkite School has finished in the top 10 nationally in the Hearst Awards for the past 10 years, including first-place finishes for the 2008–2009 and 2006–2007 academic years and second–place finishes for the 2009–2010, 2005–2006 and 2004–2005 academic years. The contest is judged by professional journalists.