UNC Hussman students win national college journalism championships

Four students and recent graduates of UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media have won national championships in the prestigious 2022 Hearst Journalism Awards competition, leading the school to its seventh National Collegiate Journalism Championship in eight years and its 11th all time.

Maddie Ellis ’22 is the national champion in writing; rising senior Angelina Katsanis is the National Photojournalism Champion; Lucas Pruitt ’22 is the National Multimedia Champion; and rising senior Jayda Williams is the National Audio Champion.

Chris Ocana ’22 and rising senior Angelica Edwards placed second and third respectively in the Multimedia Championship, giving UNC Hussman a sweep in that category. Ocana also won “Best Story of the Year” in Multimedia, and up-and-coming senior Lauren Cmiel was a Multimedia Championship runner-up.

Audio Championship runner-up Daniel Myrick ’22 won “Best Use of Audio for News Coverage,” while Elizabeth Moore ’22 was a National Writing Contest runner-up.

In all, nine Hussman students have earned their spot to compete for the national championships in San Francisco May 20-25. The nine students — four of whom are the University’s Carolina Covenant Scholars — represented nearly a third of the students nationwide who were invited to compete.

“Our students have established a long track record of success in Hearst competitions, and their performance this year is the school’s best performance to date,” said Heidi Hennink-Kaminski, acting dean of UNC Hussman. “We are proud of their accomplishments and how they have represented the strength of all our students and rewarded the commitment of our faculty and staff on the national stage.

The championship finals were the culmination of monthly competitions between more than 100 journalism and media schools in writing, photojournalism, audio, television and multimedia throughout the year. year. Students participating in the final were given an assignment to complete and submit for judging.


Multimedia finalists were asked to produce a video of no more than seven minutes on “the new social distance”. The finalists were tasked with exploring how people are transforming after COVID-19 with regards to safety, psychology and identity.

Pruitt focused on the restaurant industry in his hometown of West Jefferson, North Carolina, where his father owns two restaurants and his brother works as a chef. He said he could hardly believe it when they called his name at the awards ceremony on May 25, 2022. Pride filled his voice as he described his winning entry ‘Saving the Thing You Love “. “It’s probably the most informative video I’ve done,” he said. “And there were some interesting graphics that made good use of the media medium.”

Look at Pruitt’s winning work.


Photojournalism finalists were tasked with portraying individual expression and the “California Dream” in 10-15 photographs. National Photojournalism Champion Katsanis called her win for portraying a California dancer who is also a mother “a dream come true.”

“Since entering [Hussman’s] photojournalism program, I heard and saw of seniors and alumni who were on their way to becoming “real” journalists and winning real awards for their work. I never expected that one day I would be there with them,” Katsanis said. “It really is so empowering, and I don’t know where I would be without the support of everyone who has come before me and guided me along the way.”

View Katsanis’ winning photos


Writing finalists were asked to write two articles: a feature from an interview with psychiatrist Matthew State and an article about the impact of the pandemic on the Class of 2022. Ellis wrote about students using video TikTok to diagnose themselves with ADHD during the pandemic.

“I’ve always wanted to report on this growing awareness of ADHD on social media,” Ellis said. “To win was an amazing way to end my senior year and I owe it all to the Hussman school.”

See Ellis’ winning work


Moore was a writing finalist for work that included an article about how COVID-19 caused college students to rethink how they accessed sexual assault support. Audio finalists received a story about inflation and the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Williams knew she wanted to focus her winning stories on parents navigating inflation.

“For me, this victory means everything. I am the first in my family to be a journalist, the first to go to university. It almost makes me feel like a trailblazer,” Williams said.

Hear Williams’ story


Ocana’s “Best Story of the Year” multimedia award went to a video explaining NFTs he created as a fellow in the school’s Reese Innovation Lab – “Innovation Insight: What Are NFTs?” “Winning is a very humbling experience, and I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of Hussman’s visual communications community,” Ocana said.

Edwards placed third in the multimedia category for a video examining a Bay Area business owner’s struggles during COVID-19.

Cmiel was named a multimedia finalist for his article about how a man’s hobby exploring Japanese culture helped him cope with the realities of the pandemic.

Watch “Innovation Insight: What are NFTs?” from Ocana


Myrick’s Carolina Connection story about UNC’s Dean Dome arena host “B Daht” won the award for “Best Use of Audio for News Coverage.”

He said the recognition was a validation of his work in a media form he loves for its immediacy, intimacy and authenticity. “When you go up and interview someone, you don’t just hear their words, you hear their voice inflection and you hear their emotions,” Myrick said. “You really hear what they’re going through.”

Listen to Myrick’s story


UNC Hussman Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Distinguished Professor John H. Stembler Jr. Charlie Tuggle attributed Hussman’s Hearst victories to excellence that spans across the school’s disciplines , its students and its faculty. “We have some really, really good students here at Hussman, and we emphasize how important the Hearst Championship is to them as soon as they start school,” Tuggle said. “Having a strong showing at Hearst means you’re part of an exceptionally strong program.”

The William Randolph Hearst Foundation awards the school $25,000 for the overall championship. Students win $10,000 for first place, $7,500 for second place, and $5,000 for third place. Finalists receive $1,500. The “Best of the Year” awards come with a $1,000 prize.

About Elaine Morales

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