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Cronkite Student Finishes First in Hearst Championships

June 21, 2007

Elias Johnson, a broadcast graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, took first place in television reporting at the 2006-2007 Hearst National Championships in San Francisco.

About two dozen of the nation’s top journalism students were selected to represent their schools in the national contest, often called the Pulitzer Prizes of college journalism. Four Cronkite students, including Johnson, were chosen for the championships – the most from any university in the country.

The students were assigned stories to cover during an intensive, week-long face-off held in San Francisco earlier this month. Their work was judged by professional journalists.

Johnson, of Fort Dodge, Iowa, was among a group of broadcast students assigned to produce stories about the 40th anniversary of the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco. His first-place story also was honored for Best Use of Television for News Coverage.

Johnson, who graduated from Arizona State University in May, now works as a reporter for KDSM-TV (FOX) in Des Moines, Iowa.

Amanda Goodman, who also graduated from the Cronkite School in May, took third place in television reporting in the championship round.

Also competing were Martha Castaneda of Glendale, Ariz., who finished in the top five in the radio reporting category, and Tatiana Hensley of Londrina, Brazil, who was a runner-up in the print journalism writing category. Castaneda graduated in May and Hensley is a senior in the Cronkite School.

“The Hearst Awards are the gold standard for college journalism, and our students always do well, but this year their performance was exceptional,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “We could not be more proud of them.”

Leading up to the national championships this year, the Cronkite School already had finished first in the country in the Hearst Journalism Awards, a series of monthly contests that recognize the best student journalism in the areas of broadcast, photography and writing. Top-place students from the monthly contests were then selected for the national championships.

This year’s first-place ranking followed two consecutive second-place finishes by the Cronkite School and the sixth consecutive year that the school has finished in the top 10.

More than 100 accredited journalism schools around the country compete in the annual Hearst Journalism Awards Program, 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 distributed more than $500,000 in awards this year to students and schools.

Other universities competing in this year’s championships included Pennsylvania State University, University of Memphis, University of Kentucky, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Missouri and Western Kentucky University.