University of Montana Journalism Students Earn Top National Awards (Again!)

Jiakai (JK) Lou, right, in Helmville, Montana, last winter with Tyrel James Bignell. Courtesy photo.

Once again, University of Montana School of Journalism students showed the country what they can do, winning top prizes in regional and national competitions, including in the national Hearst Journalism Awards Program.

The Hearst Awards, sometimes called the college Pulitzer Prizes, include five writing, one radio, two TV and four multimedia competitions. Students at 104 accredited universities are eligible to compete.

This year, in the 60th annual awards, UM J-School students placed in the top 10 in four categories and in the top 20 in four more competitions.

Overall, the University of Montana is in 4th place for the Intercollegiate Multimedia Competition, which accumulates points from student placements.

Mollie Lemm. Courtesy photo.

Recent graduate JiaKai Lou placed first in multimedia narrative competition for his documentary, “32 Below,” which looks at the hard work and passion of one ranching family as they tend their cows and calves during last year’s frigid winter in Helmville, Montana. The film was also chosen to show at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

Another new graduate, Mollie Lemm, placed in 8th place in Multimedia II, Innovative Storytelling and Audience Engagement Competition and Quinn Corcoran placed 16th in Multimedia III – Enterprise Reporting.

In photojournalism, UM junior Sara Diggins won 2nd Place in Photojournalism I – News and Features for her portfolio, which documented a wide range of emotions, from grief to suspense to surprise to humor. And, Trevor Reid placed 20th in the highly competitive Photo Picture Story Competition, for his series of photos about a young high school cycling phenomenon from Missoula who competed and excelled at the National Cyclocross Championships this year. Diggins also had earlier won the Bronze Medal in the College Photographer of the Year contest in the Sports Feature Photography category.

Sara Diggins. Photo by Mollie Lemm.

UM also grabbed a top-10 Hearst win in Radio News and Features with Aidan Morton in 10th place. Becca Olson also placed in the top 20 of that competition.

In the writing category, recent grad Paul Hamby, now at the Missoulian, placed in the top 20 twice, in enterprise reporting and in personality profile writing.

J-Schoolers also cleaned up in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Awards, with 26 regional winners and 11 regional champions, which advanced to the national competition.

UM J-School claimed two national wins, including Sara Diggins, who won for her Montana Kaimin story “Vapergate” in the Photo Illustration competition. Diggins’ photography documenting the climate strike protest in Missoula was named a regional winner.

The 2019 student documentary unit also was named a national winner for their documentary “Trash talk: Montana’s recycling challenge” in the Television In-Depth Reporting category. You can watch it here on Montana PBS.

Tessa Nadeau. Courtesy photo.

Recent graduate Tessa Nadeau, now working at ABC-Fox Montana, was a national finalist for her piece “Transgender runner, June Eastwood,” which first appeared on the student-produced UM News program.

The 2019 student documentary unit also was named a national winner for their documentary “Trash talk: Montana’s recycling challenge” in the Television In-Depth Reporting category. You can watch it here on Montana PBS.

Paul Hamby earned a regional champion spot in Feature Writing for his piece in the Missoulian, “Lance Cpl. Thomas Parker: Inmate No. 3023132, Bib No. 4109.” And, Hunter Wiggins won in General News Photography for a Veteran’s Day project

In the Online News Reporting category,  Marnie Craig and Luke Nicholson won for their Native News piece, “Missing” and in Online Feature Reporting, Sara Diggns won for “Darkitecture and disorientation” in the Montana Kaimin. In Online In-Depth Reporting, Eli Imadali and Jordynn Paz won for their piece in Native News, “Left Behind.”

Quinn Corcoran won for “Missoula strikes for the climate” in the Online/Digital News Videography category.

Paul Hamby. Courtesy photo.

In the radio competition, UM student Regina Fitzsimmons, won in radio features for her piece, “Falling in love for three minutes: A woman in transition finds her place on the dance floor.” And, Maxine Speier, won in in-depth radio for “To catch a predator fish.”

Several other regional finalists from UM include:

UM J-School students also earned top honors in the NATAS Student Production Awards at the 57th Annual Northwest Regional Emmy Awards ceremony in June. The awards recognize outstanding achievement in video production. The UM News team won for Best Newscast, Tessa Nadeau won for Best General TV Reporting, and the producers of the “Trash Talk” student documentary won for Best Long-Form Non-Fiction.

Overall, University of Montana students were nominated in four categories:

  • Newscast
    • UM News 2019 • University of Montana • David Atkinson, Reporter/Photographer/Studio Crew • Griffin Rerucha, Producer/Reporter/Anchor • Graham Gardner, Director • Tessa Nadeau, Producer/Reporter/Anchor • Tina Brennan, Reporter/Photographer/Studio Crew • Sydney Hanson, Director • Briane White, Reporter/Photographer/Studio Crew
  • Long Form Non-Fiction
    • Trash Talk: Montana’s Recycling Challenge • University of Montana • Quinn Corcoran, Graphics/Reporter/Photographer • Dominik Stallings, Producer • Galen Koon, Producer/Director • Kiana Hohman, Reporter/Photographer • Jenny Gessaman, Narrator • Justin Jackson, Reporter/Photographer • Keith Szudarski, Reporter/Photographer
  • News: General Assignment-Light
    • ROTC Community Service • University of Montana • Tessa Nadeau, Reporter/Writer/Shooter/Editor
  • Sports
    • Transgender Runner • University of Montana • Tessa Nadeau, Reporter/Writer/Shooter/Editor