Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Beth Moellers
IU School of Journalism

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, June 13, 2011

IU journalism students earned top two places at Hearst National Writing Championship

June 13, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two journalism students at Indiana University earned first and second place in the Hearst National Writing Championship in San Francisco on Thursday.

Danielle Paquette

Danielle Paquette

Danielle Paquette, a senior from Plainfield, Ind., won the national championship along with a $5,000 first prize and a medallion. The Hearst awards are regarded as the "Pulitzer Prizes of college journalism," said Brad Hamm, dean of the IU School of Journalism.

Paquette is the first IU journalism student to win the national championship in writing in the 51-year history of the Hearst Foundation's Journalism Awards Program.

"The judges called my name, and tears started streaming down my face," said Paquette who wrote three stories on-site in San Francisco. "I felt so incredibly honored and blessed."

In April, the Hearst Foundation announced that IU's School of Journalism had won the prestigious Intercollegiate Writing Competition for the second year in a row.

At the San Francisco event, IU earned a fourth place in the Overall Intercollegiate Competition, which combines points from five journalism categories.

During the year, 12 IU journalism students placed in the top 10 in writing and photojournalism competitions, and their point totals earned IU its fourth place award. IU placed ninth in the Overall Intercollegiate Competition last year.

Also at the San Francisco event, Caitlin Johnston, a 2011 graduate from Crown Point, Ind., placed second in the competition, and earned $4,000 and a medallion.

Caitlin Johnston

Caitlin Johnston

Caitlin Keating, also a 2011 graduate from New York City, was a runner up and earned a $1,500 prize.

"The Hearst championship is a heart-stopping, once-in-a-lifetime competition, and these three students dove into that challenge with joy and discipline and an exhilarating sense of possibility," said visiting Riley Professor Thomas French, himself a Hearst finalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, who worked with the three on their entries for the monthly reporting contests.

"All three of these young journalists are blessed with astonishing talents, but the real reason they soared out in San Francisco was because of their willingness to keep reporting and writing and rewriting, no matter what," he said.

The three students earned the right to compete at nationals by winning a monthly national writing competition, or being selected by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation for outstanding writing during the 2010-11 academic year. Their stories were selected from 631 entries from 91 accredited journalism schools nationwide.

Paquette won first in the personality/profile competition. Johnston placed first in the opinion writing competition, and Keating placed second in the spot news writing competition. Most of the award-winning articles were written for the Indiana Daily Student newspaper and Inside magazine.

"I think accomplishments like this are a reflection of the students' commitment to tell great stories, and their willingness to work hard," said IDS editorial adviser Ruth Witmer. "They demonstrate that every day. Our three finalists are all incredible young journalists. We could not be more proud."

"The Hearst competition is a leading gauge for the top journalism schools in the nation," Hamm said. "Finishing in the top 10 is a great goal, and winning individual or school competitions is rare. I'm proud of all of the success this year by our students, faculty and staff."

French placed second in the writing competition in 1980 and Barbara Toman was second in 1983. IU had national champions in the individual photojournalism competition in 1970, 1979 and 1983.

The IU School of Journalism has been a leader in journalism education and research for 100 years. The school offers bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism and the Ph.D in mass communication. About 900 undergraduate and 100 graduate students make up the program. Its faculty members prepare students for work in print and broadcast media, journalism education, advertising and public relations. The school is located in Ernie Pyle Hall, which is named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning World War II correspondent who had been an IU student in the 1920s. For more information, visit