Montana School of Journalism Students Win Top National Awards

March 19, 2019

UM News Service

MISSOULA – Four University of Montana School of Journalism students recently won five awards in national journalism competitions that collectively draw more than 1,000 entries from over 400 universities.

Three UM students placed in the top 10 of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Hearst Journalism Awards Program, and two students placed in the top five of the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts competition. Both programs give scholarships to award winners.

Montana Kaimin editor-in-chief Matt Neuman, from Glens Falls, New York, won third place in the Hearst Journalism Awards Program in enterprise reporting for his story “In the Red: How UM dining’s upscale restaurant poured nearly $1 million down the drain.”

“While sometimes it is hard to write stories about my own university, I think it’s important to shine a light on issues so they can be fixed,” Neuman said. “I appreciate all of the university officials who let me use this place as a testing ground for real-world reporting.”

UM School of Journalism 2018 graduate Rikki Devlin, of Sacramento, California, took fifth place in the multimedia category of the Hearst awards for her multimedia work last spring for the Native News project. She won for “The Person Not the Crime: One Woman’s Journey to Healing” as part of the series “Beyond Bars: Flathead Public Defenders Provide Lasting Solutions to Incarceration.”

Meanwhile, journalism student Eli Imadali from Chandler, Arizona, won sixth place in the Hearst Journalism Awards Program for his stories for UM’s student radio station, KBGA 89.9 FM. Although Imadali is primarily a photojournalist, he said audio is another way to effectively tell immersive stories. Imadali submitted stories about Imagine Nation Brewing’s beer celebrating Missoula refugees and another about keeping kosher in Missoula.

He said he gravitated to the “Kosher in Missoula” story after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 dead.

“Looking back at it, this story and one other story were my ways of dealing with it – getting back in touch with some of my Jewish roots that I haven’t thought about in a while,” Imadali said.

The Hearst Journalism Awards are open to undergraduate students at accredited journalism programs from 104 universities.

Halisia Hubbard, a senior journalism and fine arts double major from Bigfork, won third place in the Broadcast Education Association competition for radio feature reporting for her piece “How Willard Became Willard,” a semester-long podcast project that covered Missoula’s alternative high school. She said it was encouraging to win the award because she had been working hard to find her journalistic voice.

“I owe a huge thanks to Jule Banville who has been my biggest cheerleader in the journalism school and has stuck her neck out for me many, many times,” Hubbard said.

In addition to her Hearst win, Devlin also won third place in the BEA competition for radio hard news reporting for her story “Missing Native Women.” Devlin said Ivy McDonald, an activist for missing and murdered Indigenous women, was her inspiration for the story, as well as UM School of Journalism’s capstone class, Native News.

“Native News gave me a platform to meet the people involved and the proper experience to tell this story and tell it respectfully,” Devlin said.

Devlin now works at IDEO, a global design company in San Francisco.

The BEA’s Festival of Media Arts competition brings in more than 1,000 entries each year from more than 300 schools, according to the organization.


Contact: Denise Dowling, interim dean, UM School of Journalism, 406-243-4143,