BYU journalism ranks sixth at Hearst Awards

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The Brimhall Building, as seen Aug. 28, 2014, is home to the BYU School of Communications. The BYU journalism program placed sixth in the 2021–2022 Hearst Television News Competition. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Hernandez)

BYU ranked sixth in the 2021-22 Hearst Television News Competition on March 24.

There were 75 entries from 48 schools submitted to the television competition for this academic year.

“The foundation has been really devoted to promoting and encouraging students to go into journalism,” said Jan Watten, program director of the Hearst Journalism Awards.

Watten said the award represents the accumulated points of all the students that were entered.

“So for BYU, you guys did really well,” Watten said, explaining BYU had individual winners in third, eighth and 10th place overall. “Those scores combined, gave you sixth place,” she said.

She said there is a panel of three judges for each category who all critique the work together, ranking applicants from 1–20.

“The pieces that determine the winners are good reporting,” she said. “Does the student know what they’re talking about? Have they done their research? Is the writing good?”

Watten said the program tries to inspire excellence in journalism education.

“Not only do the awards benefit the students, but the matching grant goes to the school, and the schools get to use that money toward a variety of things,” she said.

Watten said BYU will receive a trophy that can hopefully encourage the students and professors that see it to keep entering the competition.

Ally O’Rullian, a senior in the BYU journalism program and a reporter for ABC4, placed third in the section focusing on news features like public affairs, business, investigations and science entries. She received a scholarship of $1,500.

“I won my award through a longer form story I did on a project that computer science is working on to translate bees, which is crazy,” she said.

O’Rullian said the topic of her project was interesting, though she wasn’t doing it for the award.

“It’s always fun as a reporter, it’s always a lot of work,” she said. “But it’s totally worth it because I got to learn something completely new.”

She spoke about how helpful everyone at The Daily Universe and Universe Live have been, as well as family, classmates and her husband.

O’Rullian said she had not known about BYU’s sixth place ranking and was excited to hear about it.

“Honestly, I feel like we’re no. 1 so I feel like we’re a bit snubbed,” she said. “But any recognition that BYU can get under the journalism program is awesome, because I would not be reporting in a top market without that program.”

BYU journalism major Carly Wasserlein was one of the top ten finalists. She placed eighth and received a certificate for her efforts.

“I just feel like I don’t deserve to have the award all by myself,” Wasserlein said. “I think the focus should be on how BYU as a whole placed really well.”

She said her mentors Melissa Gibbs, Carrie Moore and Alan Neves worked with her one-on-one to help her become the best journalist she can be.

“I’m just so glad I’ve been surrounded by so many wonderful people,” Wasserlein said. “I’ve learned so much from my peers, and I don’t know, they deserve the award more than I do.”

Wasserlein said the mentors do not give themselves enough credit because they play a big role in guiding students.

“Yeah, I don’t want to brag but we definitely deserve it,” Wasserlein said. “We have so many brilliant reporters, amazing journalists and our producers are so wildly talented.”

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