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Two Cronkite students took first and third places in the nation’s most prestigious intercollegiate journalism competition for editorial writing, while six others were recognized for their feature-writing work in television, newspaper and radio.
Megan Ann Martin, who graduated in May from the Cronkite School, finished first in the editorial writing category of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program, often called the Pulitzer Prizes of college journalism.
Martin, from Peoria, Ariz., won for a column published in the CronkiteZine, the school’s online student magazine, that explored her experiences with a group of volunteers who were picking up garbage left behind by Mexicans trying to cross the U.S. border.
“I thought (the story) had an interesting environmental spin on the immigration issue, but it turned into something so much bigger,” Martin said. “It really brought home the real issue of immigration – the human element. It is so easy to talk numbers, money, jobs, arrests and deportations. They are figures that can roll off of your tongue without a second thought, but when you are confronted with the reality of the issue, it becomes a real struggle to come to grips with.”
She wrote the column as part of an in-depth reporting class taught by Rick Rodriguez, the school’s Carnegie Professor and the former executive editor of the Sacramento Bee.
“I still recall how emotional she was when she came back from collecting trash left behind by illegal immigrants crossing the desert,” Rodriguez said. “I had her tell me what she saw, what she felt. She couldn’t stop talking about finding a child’s little blue pants, wondering about his journey and where he was. And then I gave her a very short deadline because I wanted to capture her passion. It worked. She wrote a terrific piece.”
Martin will receive $2,000 from the Hearst Foundation, which will give the Cronkite School a matching grant for the winning entry.
Meanwhile, Allison Gatlin won third place in the editorial writing competition for her article “Playing His Twisted Game,” published in The Blue Guitar, a Web magazine of the Arizona Consortium for the Arts. Gatlin wrote about how she was stalked by a former boyfriend and the psychological impact years later. The Cronkite senior and Glendale native will receive a $1,000 scholarship from Hearst.
In other Hearst competitions:
Overall, the Cronkite School finished in first place nationally last year for the second time in three years in the prestigious competition. More than 100 accredited journalism schools around the country compete annually. Final placements for 2009-2010 will be announced this spring.
The program was established by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation in 1960 to provide support, encouragement and assistance to journalism education at the college and university level. The program distributes more than $550,000 in scholarships and grants annually.
Career Services Director Mike Wong and Assistant Dean Kristin Gilger coordinate the Hearst Journalism Awards for the Cronkite School.