MISSOULA – Two recent graduates of the University of Montana School of Journalism have earned top honors in the national Hearst Journalism Awards Program. Chris Allen of Missoula and Ruth Eddy of Oak Park, Ill., earned first and second place, respectively, in the radio news category of the national competition, sometimes called the Pulitzer Prizes of college journalism.
The two were invited to the live event in Washington, D.C., based upon their strong showing in the preliminary competition during the academic year. The 54th annual Hearst Championships hosted 29 winners from monthly competitions to demonstrate their abilities in rigorous on-the-spot assignments.
The radio competitors were asked to create a story about politicians bypassing mainstream media and using social media or other means to share their message. Competitors had one day to research, find and conduct interviews, write and record. They used a second day to edit their pieces. Media professionals judged the work, and awards were given at a dinner and gala at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on June 5.
As the winners were announced, the presenter commented on the strength of the journalism program at UM in light of the many finalists the University has sent to the Hearst competition over the years. Last year, UM graduate Sam Wilson won the multimedia competition and Jessica Murri took second in the radio news category.
Allen won $5,000 for his first place win, and Eddy earned a $4,000 prize. Both graduated from the journalism school in May with an emphasis in radio. Both also were employees of KBGA College Radio – Eddy as the news director for the past two years and Allen as a reporter. In addition, Eddy interned with the Montana Radio Company and Montana Public Radio, and Allen will complete an internship at MTPR this summer.
They attribute their success to the hands-on training they received under Assistant Professor Jule Banville. Eddy said, “That lady is such a talented teacher who tells you how you can get better. And we did!”
Banville said, “I’m so thrilled that others saw the promise I’ve been lucky enough to watch grow these past couple of years. They are two to watch in the radio world, for sure. I’m insanely proud.”
UM placed seventh overall in broadcast news during the yearlong competition, eighth in writing, ninth in multimedia and ninth overall. The competition is open to students from 105 accredited schools of journalism.