CoJMC student wins “Best Article of the Year” at Hearst National Championships

CoJMC student wins “Best Article of the Year” at Hearst National Championships

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - 10:45am
by Molly Chapple  Marcella Mercer, a May 2018 journalism graduate of the CoJMC, won “Best Article of the Year” from among 605 entries at the recent Hearst National Championships.  Mercer, a Nebraska City native, wrote about a young Ugandan boy, Mafabi Shadrach, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer. The story follows 5-year-old Shadrach and his father, James Michael, on their journey and their time spent at the Bless a Child Foundation in Kampala, Uganda.  “I’m very humbled and amazed by how much this story
Professors Starita and Thorson accompanied the three winners to the championships. (L to R: Starita, Bowling, Mercer, Schank and Thorson)

by Molly Chapple

Marcella Mercer, a May 2018 journalism graduate of the CoJMC, won “Best Article of the Year” from among 605 entries at the recent Hearst National Championships.

Mercer, a Nebraska City native, wrote about a young Ugandan boy, Mafabi Shadrach, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer. The story follows 5-year-old Shadrach and his father, James Michael, on their journey and their time spent at the Bless a Child Foundation in Kampala, Uganda.

“I’m very humbled and amazed by how much this story has affected people,” Mercer said. “I’ve never been more invested or worked harder on a story, and I feel so lucky that it seems to have paid off.”

This marks the second year in a row that a CoJMC student has received the “Best Article of the Year” award. Last year, Lauren Brown-Hulme, a May 2018 grad from Prairie Village, Kansas, won the award for her profile of a young street preacher in Whiteclay, Nebraska.

Additionally, two other CoJMC students brought home national awards. In the National Multimedia Championships, Tyler Schank received second place, winning a $7,500 award. Schank, a December 2017 grad, secured her trip to the championships for her multimedia project, which focused on a Ugandan family that has two children with albinism.

In the Writing Championships, May 2018 graduates Chris Bowling and Marcella Mercer were each named top four finalists. Bowling earned a trip to the championships for his stories focused on the KeystoneXL Pipeline controversy. Mercer earned a trip to the finals for her poignant story about the relationship between a Ugandan father and his dying son.

Professor Joe Starita and associate professor Bruce Thorson, who worked with the students, accompanied them to the championships.

“To win the National ‘Story of the Year’ once is an impressive achievement,” Starita said. “To win it two years in a row is an astounding affirmation of just how talented and hardworking our students are.”

Thorson added: “Tyler Schank has developed into a skilled and talented photojournalist...” getting second place in the multimedia national championship is affirmation, too, of the hard work she has put into this craft.”

Schank is currently interning in Duluth, Minnesota, and in the fall she will be interning in Columbus, Ohio.

From June 3 through June 6, 28 finalists – all winners from the 14 monthly competitions – participated in the 58th annual Hearst Championships in San Francisco where they demonstrated their writing, photography, radio, television and multimedia skills in rigorous on-the-spot assignments. The assignments were chosen by media professionals who judged the finalists’ work throughout the year and at the championships.

In addition to individual awards, eight universities shared prizes totaling $89,000 as this year’s winners of the Intercollegiate Writing, Photojournalism and Broadcast and Multimedia Competitions of the annual Hearst Journalism Awards Program.

In both the writing and multimedia divisions, the CoJMC finished in third place and received $2,000 for each award. The CoJMC was also awarded a sixth place trophy in the Intercollegiate Photojournalism competition.

Overall, the CoJMC took fifth place among the 105 accredited journalism programs in the U.S.

The 2017-2018 prizes are awarded to the top universities in each division of the Intercollegiate Competitions, with the top 10 of each category receiving Hearst trophies.

Often called “The Pulitzers of college journalism,” the Hearst program holds year-long competitions in writing, photojournalism, radio, television and multimedia for journalism undergraduates. Journalism schools accumulating the most points earned by their students in each category are designated the winners of the Intercollegiate Competitions.

The overall intercollegiate winners are those schools with the highest combined student points from the 1,314 entries submitted this year.

The Hearst Journalism Awards Program was founded in 1960 to foster journalism education through scholarships for outstanding college students. Since its inception, the program has distributed more than $13 million in scholarships and grants for the best work by student journalists.