Hearst Awards

Cronkite students win prestigious Hearst Awards

Thursday, June 27, 2024


The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University ranked among the top universities in the prestigious Hearst Journalism Awards Program, often called “The Pulitzers of college journalism.” 

Three Cronkite students competed in the Hearst National Championship in San Francisco this month. Denzen Cortez, Keetra Bippus and Tabitha Bland all qualified to compete in the national competition based on scores in monthly Hearst competitions during this academic year.

Cortez took second place in the National Television Championship and won a $7,500 scholarship for a story focused on San Francisco’s cable cars and the struggle to restore ridership numbers to pre-pandemic levels. 

Bippus won third place and a $5,000 scholarship in the National Writing Championship, and she earned another $1,000 scholarship for Best Reporting Technique based on her performance in the monthly competitions.

Bland finished as a finalist for the Television Championship, which included a $1,500 prize.

“The Hearst Awards are among the most rigorous college awards contests in the country. These results are a testament to the talent, hard work and dedication of our Cronkite students, ” said Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts. “Congratulations to these students for their strong performance in this esteemed contest.”

The Hearst Awards include competitions throughout the year for undergraduate journalism students in writing, photojournalism, audio, television and multimedia. The points earned by students in the monthly contests determine each college’s rankings, and the top winners compete in the Hearst national championships, a live reporting competition held in San Francisco during the first week of June. 

Journalism schools are awarded prize money and trophies based on points earned in the monthly competitions, and the student winners receive scholarships. In the monthly competitions this year, the Cronkite School captured third place and won a $2,000 award in the Intercollegiate Writing category, placed sixth in Intercollegiate Audio and Television category, and placed fifth in the Intercollegiate Overall categories. 

The recognition is about more than scholarships and trophies for the students involved, however.

“It really did all feel rewarding and gratifying knowing that the sacrifice had paid off,” Cortez said, of his second place finish. “But at the same time, it kind of made me even more determined, the competitor in me to work even harder.”

He is working this summer with Carnegie-Knight News21, a national reporting initiative headquartered at the Cronkite School, where he’ll team with top college students from across the country to examine the state of American democracy. 

In August, he will begin an internship at “ABC World News Tonight,” where he’ll have the opportunity to work with Cronkite Award winner David Muir, anchor and managing editor of “ABC World News Tonight with David Muir.”

Bippus is covering Capitol Hill this summer in the Cronkite News Washington Bureau.

“Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re doing a good job or on the right path, but these awards are validation that I am,” Bippus said. “It’s a testament of what I have accomplished and how much further I can go.”

Bland, who graduated last month with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication, learned that she was selected for the national championships on the same day as her commencement, she said. 

“I was going to have the opportunity to represent the Cronkite School one last time as a student,” she said. “To compete against some of the most talented reporters I have ever met is the highest honor of all.” 

In July, Bland will join WMTV in Madison, Wisconsin, where she will anchor on the weekends and report from the field during the week.

She credited the Cronkite School for shaping both her career as a journalist and as a person.

“I have learned not to speak, but rather to listen,” she said. “Everyone has a story, and every story is worthy of being told.” 

By Abby Bessinger