J-School students win Hearst journalism award

J-School students Madelyn Beck and Brett Bernsten won fourth place and third place in the 55th annual Hearst Journalism Awards Program's Radio News and Features Competition and Enterprise Reporting Competition, respectively.

Beck's two entries, “Roadkill for Dinner” and “Women of the Bakken”, were selected from among a record 58 entries from 35 schools this year and Bernsten's story, "No Place to Hide", was chosen from 108 entries from 66 schools.

“Roadkill for Dinner” was picked up for air by "PRX Remix," which is hosted by Roman Mars and airs on numerous public radio stations and on satellite radio. Beck's other winning entry, “Women of the Bakken”, was a radio broadcast for a show called “In Other Words”, which used to broadcast on KUFM (Montana Public Radio).

“Reporting on both of the stories was...hectic,” Beck said. “A lot of work, traveling, and forethought went into both and, together, the piece probably took me an easy 48 hours of work. That is, without breaks.”

Beck said it was worth it and receiving the Hearst journalism award feels amazing.

“My favorite part of the process has two parts,” Beck said. “The first is compiling the audio. I love talking to people and hearing stories. I love noticing little details that I want to add into those stories later. The second part is just when I get in the ‘zone.’ This is when I'm in the dark basement with my audio equipment and my brain is doing over-time as I fit all the puzzle-pieces together. I hardly ever going into that editing room with a plan, but once I'm there, I just get really into what I'm doing until it's finished.”

Beck said she submitted the two radio pieces at the recommendation of her professor and mentor, Jule Banville. Beck’s award comes with a $1000 prize and an invitation to the National Championships along with the TV, writing, photojournalism and multimedia finalists in San Francisco in June 2015.

Beck is the fourth UM journalism student in the past three years to make the top five in this round of the Hearst awards. The top five get cash prizes, which are also matched by the Hearst Foundation and awarded to their respective schools. The top five also get an expenses-paid trip to the national finals in June. Last June, recent grads Christopher Allen and Ruth Eddy placed first and second at those finals. 

Beck is currently reporting on the legislature in Helena as part of the UM Legislative News Service.

Berntsen's story, published in the Montana Journalism Review, won him a $1,500 scholarship.

- posted on 01/28/15 -