Senior communications major Natalie Tripp took home first place in Radio News while fellow senior Garrett Tenney matched the feat in Television News. Tenney also won the award for “Best Use of Television in News Reporting.”
The Hearst Awards are the journalism discipline’s most respected student competition. Tripp and Tenney spent a week beating deadlines and demonstrating their skills in on-the-spot assignments at the 51st Hearst Championships, which featured just a handful of finalists from the original 1,160 entries.
“There’s a reason I chose to attend BYU – the opportunities and experience gained in the journalism program are rare compared to schools across the country,” Tripp said. “We consistently win these national awards because we get valuable hands-on experience as students. Not only do our professors and mentors prepare us well, but they also teach us how to uphold our personal beliefs and standards as we progress to work in the media.”
Tripp and Tenney spent most of the year competing for a chance to make it to the championships. Both communications majors qualified by finishing in the top five for feature news reporting during the year.
While at the championships in San Francisco, the students were assigned to do a story on the city’s dedication to sustainability. They were then given a few days to complete a feature to be judged against the other finalists.
Tripp reached out to an urban chicken farmer in the city and found a reporter in San Francisco raising honey bees on the top of her downtown office building. Tenney did a piece on the sustainable sushi movement, a trend where sushi restaurants are moving away from using fish that are on extinction watch lists.
“They announced the winners from fifth down to first and as they kept listing off names, my heart kept beating faster and faster,” Tripp said. “When they called second place and it wasn’t me, I was stunned. It felt surreal.”
Listen to Natalie Tripp's winning story:
After Tripp won, the judges announced the winner in Tenney’s category.
“We had talked about how cool it would be to both win first place,” Tenney said. “As they started reading off the names, I looked over at Natalie and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, is this going to happen?’ When I realized I had won first place, it was just an incredible feeling. It was something I had worked on for a long time.”
With the win, Tenney made good on a goal to improve from his previous finish as a finalist in 2010.
BYU Broadcast News Manager Chad Curtis was on hand to see his two senior students earn $5,000 for taking the top prize in their respective categories. Tenney also won an extra $1,500 for his additional award.
“Natalie and Garrett have worked very hard in our student newsroom and have raised the bar high for future broadcast journalism students,” Curtis said. “The Hearst judges were very impressed with their style and poise in handling a high-pressure news gathering situation, which speaks to the talent these students have. It is also impressive that, in both cases, they have been able to walk directly from our classrooms to professional newsrooms without missing a beat.”
While Tenney is already working as a Fox News reporter in Jackson, Miss., Tripp will be the live-on-location morning reporter for KFOX 14 News in El Paso, Texas, starting July 6.