Archive for the ‘Hearst’ Category

Did somebody say San Francisco?

In Awards, Hearst, IDS on April 1, 2013 at 9:47 pm

And the Hearst awards keep rolling in.

Charles Scudder won first place in profile writing for his story “A queen comes home” and will join Claire Wiseman at the national writing competition in San Francisco this summer.




The forgotten queen steps onto the empty stage.

She looks out across the cavernous hall of the IU Auditorium. It’s bigger than she remembered. She sees the rows of seats where her friends cheered for her. She feels the crown tilting on her head, hears the flashbulbs popping in her face, catching her surprise as she made history. She never expected to win.

The stage is so quiet now. She thinks back to the Ebony fashion tour that followed her coronation, the dinner with Dr. King. She thinks about the slurs people hurled at her, writing letters, calling her at the dorm. The way her own yearbook ignored her reign. The man pointing the gun.

So much pride and so much hate, all beginning under these lights.

It just gets better from there. It’s well worth your time.

More good news: Mary Kenney won 10th for “Light from Darkness,” which she reported while studying in Hyderabad, India.


Metal doors clicked open, and the creaky train spat crowds onto the cement platform. Akshaya tried to catch her breath as people thudded past her, knocking into her hips and shoulders. She panicked.

The teenager had run away from home. Her father was a heavy drinker who beat her, her mother and her siblings. She was tired of it. Carrying a bag filled with clothes and silver anklets to sell, she boarded a train destined for Hyderabad, one of India’s largest cities.

Her excitement withered as she stepped onto the cement platform. The crowds pressed closer. She was scared, and she told herself she belonged at home with her family. She resolved to catch the first train going back and scurried to the information desk near the station’s main entrance. She asked a man behind a thick glass window how to go home, and he told her the next train to her village would leave around 3:30 p.m.

That was five hours away. She turned away from the window, and a handsome, well-dressed young man approached. He spoke Telugu, her first language. Hindi and English are India’s official languages, but most Indians learn languages native to their home state first, then tack on more if they are able to go to school.

The man told her there was no need to wait in the hot, crowded station. He lived nearby, and she could stay with him for a few hours. He promised to bring her back in time for her train. Charmed, she agreed, and they left together in a rickshaw bound for his two-room house. At the time, she was 18 or 19, she isn’t sure.

Once indoors, the man locked Akshaya in a back room. He and his friends raped her.

With this and previous wins, Mary is in the running for a wildcard ticket to San Francisco.

IU remains in the lead of the Intercollegiate Writing Competition by 28 points. We’re followed by Penn State. The last contest of the year, breaking news, is due Tuesday.

– MA


Hearst update: Sports Writing

In Awards, Hearst, IDS on March 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm

It’s a damn exciting week for Hoosier journalists.

Claire Wiseman won 1st place for her story, “The story behind the score.” That earns her a trip to San Francisco for the Hearst finals in June. From the story:


The outrage sparked by the game made those who were there reluctant to speak.

Arlington’s players appeared on television only once, on CNN’s “Starting Point” with Soledad O’Brien. They smiled into the camera as their coach said they were shocked by how decisively the Bloomington South players trounced them.

“They’d played longer than most of us,” one player told O’Brien, “and they worked very hard, and we just haven’t played before, and it was probably really hard for all of us.”

Arlington officials responded carefully as well. Though media attention was largely sympathetic to their team, the officials became wary of the impact further coverage would have on students. When asked what their team learned from the loss, Coach Jackson said perseverance.

“No matter what it is,” Jackson said, “you just gotta finish it.”

The parents of the Bloomington South players agreed together not to speak to reporters. School officials treated the game like ancient history.

“Everybody’s moved on,” said J.R. Holmes, Bloomington South’s athletic director. “It’s out of the news, and we don’t even discuss it anymore.”

The extreme loss touched a nerve. It raised questions. What do players learn from losing so badly? Can a defeat like this one really be considered a victory?

Wonderful stuff.

I (Charlie) also won 6th place for my story on Bob Knight’s troubled legacy. From that story:


One of the most revered and most infamous coaches in history, Bob Knight decided last fall to clean house, putting pieces of his legacy up for sale. Hundreds of items were to be auctioned online through a sports memorabilia firm.

Knight told the Associated Press he was selling the rings and the other artifacts to raise money for his grandchildren’s college fund. But here in Indiana, it was hard not to wonder. After a lifetime as a coach and an analyst for ESPN, it seemed unlikely that he was strapped for cash. Was it a coincidence that the auction would begin as the Hoosiers entered the season ranked No. 1 for the first time since he left?

The coach’s messy departure from IU — the firing, the lawsuits, the riot — was almost as legendary as his winning record. Since then, the university had repeatedly tried to reach out to him, inviting him to be honored at public rituals of commemoration. But the answer was always no.

Now, when the Hoosiers were back on top, Knight was selling off emblems of collective memory, even the ring symbolizing the unmatched perfection of 1976.

Was he just being a good granddad? Or was he telling IU that all those years together meant nothing?

These wins put IU further in 1st in the Intercollegiate Writing Competition. We are now 44 points ahead of Penn State, in 2nd place. Behind Penn State is Northwestern, Florida, Kansas, Nebraska-Lincoln, Arizona State, Mizzou, UNC-Chapel Hill and Syracuse.

The profile deadline is March 6. The final competition is breaking news, due April 2.


IU in first for Hearst Competition

In Awards, Hearst, IDS on January 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I know I’m a little late on this news, but a big congrats to Mary Kenney and Claire Wiseman for pushing IU into first place in the Hearst Intercollegiate Writing Competition.

The enterprise writing competition results were released this week. Mary earned second place for her piece on the “crooked odyssey” of convicted killer Robert E. Lee.


When the phone rang, Dana Jones was at his desk at the mission. The caller was from Indiana parole.

“Do you take murderers?” the man asked, off-hand.“Yes,” Jones said. “We have before.”

Claire earned third for her story about political life in the small town of Butler, Ind.


There are 17 in all, written on the whiteboard across the room, brought in from an Amish-Mennonite bakery down the road.

The couple Capp is serving considers.

For them, it’s simple. The sugar cream.

Pick a pie from the list and move on.

For Capp, recommending a pie is hard enough. Picking one is even tougher.

She’s indecisive. She couldn’t even tell you which party she’s chosen more often.

“I’m not a Democrat, I’m not a Republican, alright?” Capp says. ”I vote for who I think can do the best.”
Right now, Capp can’t figure out who that person is. It takes a while for her to articulate her positions.

That put IU in first in the Intercollegiate Writing Competition. Here are the current standings.

  1. Indiana University
  2. Northwestern University
  3. Pennsylvania State University
  4. Arizona State University
  5. University of Missouri (tie)
  6. University of Florida (tie)
  7. Syracuse University
  8. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  9. Drake University
  10. University of Kansas

Taking first in the enterprise competition was Rachel Janik of Northwestern University. Her story on bullying and suicide in high schools is worth a read.


On a Monday in August of 2010, Tammy Aaberg stood before the Anoka-Hennepin School Board for the first time. She slowly approached the microphone in a red T-shirt, with a collection of rubber bracelets supporting various causes on her wrist. Her eyes, though nearly covered by her blonde bangs, threatened to overflow with tears. She placed a picture of her son on the desk in front of her, and informed the board that 15-year-old Justin, openly gay, had hanged himself the previous month.

Aaberg told the four board members in attendance that after Justin’s death, she learned of the school’s Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy, which forbade teachers from mentioning homosexuality in class. She thought the policy had the effect of isolating LGBT students and leaving them to doubt their self-worth; it left teachers confused and ill-equipped to defend bullied gay students, she said. After she finished, Board Chair Tom Heidemann thanked her, and then dismissed the connection she had drawn.

“Just so you know, there are two distinct policies. One’s a curriculum policy, the other’s a bullying policy,” the chairman said. No student in the Anoka-Hennepin district should be harassed for any reason, he added. He argued that teachers should be expected to take immediate disciplinary action if they witness bullying.

Congrats to all the winners. The next category is sports writing, due Feb. 5, so get those stories prepared to keep IU at the top.

Hearst Winners

In Awards, Hearst on June 28, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Today, Hearst released the winning stories from IU’s Danielle Paquette and Caitlin Johnston, who placed first and second, respectively, at this year’s national writing competition in San Francisco. Here’s how some of their winning stories start.


Ana Alvarez remembers the sudden chill of handcuffs on her wrists, the internal storm of fear and relief, the sleepless night in San Francisco County Jail.

That’s when the 23-year-old former crack cocaine dealer, who undercover police arrested on 16th and Mission Street in August 2009, made a promise to herself.

“I was never going back to that overcrowded, smelly place,” she said. “It was time to turn my life around.”

Her attorney recommended Back on Track, a criminal reentry initiative founded by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

The program, in partnership with Goodwill Industries, is open to first-time, nonviolent offenders between the ages of 18 and 24. Coursework guides participants through constructing resumes, acing job interviews and, eventually, becoming community leaders.

“Back on Track gives young adults the tools they need to succeed out there,” program director Joanna Hernandez said. “It is a tremendous effort to keep them from going back to jail.”

And it’s working, she said.


Debbie Mesloh still remembers the meeting where Kamala Harris proposed her anti-truancy initiative.

“I’m going to prosecute parents,” announced Harris, the then San Francisco district attorney.

Mesloh, her friend and adviser, watched as the room erupted in a chorus of protests. It was an election year, after all. The plan was political suicide. But Harris held firm. She had the political capital, and she was ready to spend it.

To Harris, a career prosecutor known for innovative techniques, it was a matter of accountability. She pored through murder profiles from 2004 to 2008.The results showed 94 percent of victims under the age of 25 were high school drop-outs. In Harris’ mind, keeping kids in school was a life or death battle.

Initiatives like this place Harris in stark contrast to archetypical law-and-order district attorneys. Supporters praise her creativity and pragmatism. Detractors point to her blunders in office, including having to drop hundreds of drug cases as a result of a crime lab technician skimming cocaine samples.

Hearst: In-Depth Winners

In Awards, Hearst, IDS on February 9, 2011 at 8:47 am

Danielle Paquette and Jess Haney recently placed sixth and eighth, respectively, in Hearst’s In-Depth writing contest. Here are excerpts from their winning stories:


Capturing a hungry tiger requires patience.

Three days after Christmas, on a gray 15-degree morning in Angola, Ind., Joe Taft tries to coax a female Bengal out of her enclosure for the second straight hour. She refuses to budge.

“Come on, dear,” Taft says, brandishing a severed deer leg. “Come on, Savannah.”

To an outsider, the scene may resemble an action sequence crafted in Hollywood: A 65-year-old man wrangles a 250-pound exotic beast in the middle of an abandoned amusement park. His team, a group of four warmly bundled animal handlers, stand by an open travel crate, ready to drop the hinge door and hoist her into a Penske rental truck.

Any minute now.

Today’s objective is routine for Taft, a seasoned tiger rescuer. Before sundown, his team must transport three big cats—Savannah, her brother, Christopher and Mariah, a blind white tiger—to an animal sanctuary 233 miles south.

“Come on, girl,” Taft presses.

Savannah flicks her long sinewy tail. Anxiety overwhelms her normally laid-back demeanor. She stares, twitches, flashes jagged teeth. Her snorts crystallize into clouds in the frigid air.

She’s never seen this man on her territory, which, for the past nine years, has been Fun Spot Amusement Park & Zoo. She watches him pace along her wire enclosure, pressing snowy footprints in the shadow of a nearby roller coaster.

“Here, girl!” calls Dani Kennedy, her caretaker. “He’s going to take you to your new home!” She employs a soft, cajoling tone—baby talk to an animal nearly three times her size.

Savannah hesitates. She’s wary of placing a paw near the travel crate, despite the humans’ continuous efforts to lure her.  She’s agitated by the ruckus, the unfamiliar group, the lack of breakfast at 9 a.m.

But the deer meat proves too appealing to completely resist. It’s fresh enough to drizzle crimson in the snow.

On the other side of the wire, Taft’s hand guides her to the crate’s opening. She creeps close enough to prompt whispers.

“She’s almost there. Get ready!”

Then she lunges away in a flash of black and orange.


By 11 p.m., the police were nowhere in sight. As Caitlin and I walked along Varsity, a Pizza X van drove by, its speakers blasting Alphaville’s “Forever Young.”

Do you really want to live forever
Forever, forever

Caitlin and I were scoping out the party when we saw the freshman woman lying motionless on the grass next to the sidewalk. Her body was limp except for one arm that clung to the base of a “Visitors Parking” sign. Stiletto heels stuck out from the bottom of her jeans.

The freshman was not alone. Her girlfriend did not appear to be as drunk. She stood over the freshman, holding a cell phone in one hand and trying to pull her off the ground with the other. Somehow, she managed to yank the fallen student up by one arm. The freshman’s legs wobbled.

As we walked closer, a young guy approached from a nearby side street. He said something to the drunk freshman, but Caitlin and I couldn’t hear the words. He was drunk enough to be swaying, too, and was standing close to the girl, touching her shoulder. She was too out of it to respond. Her friend held her by the arm to keep her from falling again.

“Danielle is really fucked up,” the friend told the guy. “I’m sorry, but I’m really not trying to cockblock you.”

Caitlin and I heard this as we went past the three of them. By the time we turned around, the guy was trying to kiss the drunken freshman. Danielle — we knew her name now — had staggered back across the sidewalk and up against an electric box there in the grass. The man pushed his body against hers, keeping her in place. The girlfriend still stood beside them.

On a nearby apartment balcony, a group of seven or eight partiers stood with beers in their hands and laughed at what was happening to Danielle.

“Take her home!” they chanted. “Take her home!”

I wasn’t sure who they thought should take her home — the guy or the girlfriend — but as far as I could tell, they weren’t yelling out of concern. They were mocking her defeat.

Hearst: sports writing

In Hearst, IDS on January 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Another Hearst deadline is coming up. Sports reporters, I hope you’re scouring your clips. Last year IDS reporter Sean Morrison placed 15th in the Hearst sports writing category. Here is a short excerpt from “IU high jumper learns to fly.”


The high jumper stands at the top of the lane, motionless for 32 seconds.

He stares toward his nemesis, a bar balanced 2.17 meters above the track – a barrier he is determined to clear. His light blue eyes bore into it as he psyches himself up to run toward his lone obstacle here in Gladstein Fieldhouse, home of the IU track and field team. To him, the rest of the arena has fallen away. All that’s left is him and the bar.

“OK, this isn’t anything,” the young man silently tells himself. “I’m used to it. I’ve seen this height before. I can jump this.”

For the eternity of those 32 seconds, he focuses on one goal. To overcome. To ascend. To defy gravity.

The lane leading to the bar, roughly 15 yards away, is a runway. And Derek Drouin is ready to fly.

Stephanie Kuzydym also placed in the sports writing category. Her IDS story about Todd Yeagley placed 17th.


Earning three Big Ten titles and a 75-9-5 record with IU, Todd gave his father many memories. None stuck out more than his son’s first game as a Hoosier.

“When I looked out there and they announced him, he was lined up with the team,” Jerry said with pride. “They were playing the national anthem – and there was my son in an IU uniform.”

Entering the game with a 23-2 record, the Hoosiers deserved their spot on the sidelines of the 1994 title game against Virginia.

They believed victory was theirs.

But after the final second ticked off the clock, the Hoosiers saw the wrong team kissing the trophy.

Sixteen years later, Todd still has not watched the loss.

He still feels empty.

“You get there and you get a taste of it,” Todd recounted. “When you’re a senior, you know it’s over. There’s no chance to come back.”

Hearst: Steps in her way

In Hearst, Inside on January 5, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I’m still posting old Hearst stories to get everyone pumped for world domination. Our next winning story comes from CJ Lotz. Last year she placed ninth in the In-Depth category for this story in Inside magazine.


Joannah Peterson pulls up to the curb in front of Goodbody Hall. A handicap tag hangs in her silver Honda Accord, but the reserved spaces are taken. She parks behind them illegally, along the curb. She’s already found six parking tickets tucked under her wiper this year, but she can argue her way out of another one.

This fall Friday morning, she’s running a little behind. She has office hours for an Asian history class and a few e-mails to send off.

She opens the car door, lifts out her wheelchair frame, attaches one wheel and then the next. After scooting herself onto the chair, she closes the car door and rolls up to the sloped entrance. She zig-zags along the ramp, lifting up her wheels slightly so she won’t get stuck in cracks. She reaches the big blue button with the image of a stick man in a wheelchair. Instead of pressing it, she opens the door herself and rolls inside.

The basement of Goodbody is stark white. It smells a little moldy. Sometimes Joannah calls it The Dungeon, sometimes The Belly of the Beast.

Inside, Joannah looks left. There’s a hallway and then a staircase. The East Asian Languages and Cultures department is on the second floor. There is no elevator. Thirty-five steps separate Joannah from her department.

She turns to the right and wheels silently down the hall and into room 003-6, the corner room that serves as her ground-level office.

Scour your clips. The deadline is coming up!

Hearst: Opinion Winner

In Awards, Hearst, Inside on December 29, 2010 at 2:04 pm

A huge congrats to Caitlin Johnston. She recently won first place for opinion writing in the Hearst Journalism Awards Program! Her essay, “The home front,” ran in Inside’s Identity Issue.

Caitlin Johnston (INSIDE)

Blake’s confidence reassures me. But sometimes my mind wanders, and I imagine ways I would react if he died. I see my mom showing up unexpectedly at my apartment. Sometimes I collapse like they do in the movies. Other times I’m silent, unable to comprehend what’s happening.

I know it’s morbid. Still, the scenes seep into my mind. It’s like my subconscious is trying to prepare me, as if the grief would be more manageable with a script to follow.

Being a journalist makes it worse. I know how the media would handle Blake’s death. Our local paper would run a memorial story: “Hometown hero dies in Afghanistan.” If it’s a slow news day, they might run his photo. Friends would share stories from Little League and lament his youth. And then the world would move on. Because soldiers die every day in the desert 7,000 miles away.

Hearst Feature Winners

In Awards, Hearst, IDS on December 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Congratulations to Biz Carson and Kelly Cochran, they both placed in the Hearst competition for feature writing.

I already posted both of their stories, but here are the links.

Biz Carson (IDS): Night Owl A-bus driver enjoys seeing variety of people during his runs.

Kelly Cochran (IDS): A story that’s far too common.

You can read more about the other winners and the Hearst awards here.

Hearst: Students share secrets on bathroom stall walls

In Awards, Hearst, IDS on November 8, 2010 at 10:24 am

Last year Rachel Stark placed second in the Hearst opinion writing category for “Students share secrets on the bathroom stall walls.” The story won several other awards, including first place for editorials through CSPA. The deadline for opinion writing is at the end of November. Happy writing!


One afternoon I walked into the stall to see yet another note had been added to the top of the graffiti circle. It was written in the same handwriting as the initial message, in the same color pen.

“I’m getting help at CAPS – thank you all!”

Intrigued and inspired, I wanted to find anyone who knew something about this bathroom forum.

And so my search began.

My first stop, naturally, was the Counseling and Psychological Services on campus. I was well aware that the counselors couldn’t just supply me with a name of a client.

But maybe I could clue the counselors in on my story, and if they knew the bathroom stall girl, they could see if she would want to talk to me. A long shot, but I had to try.

“Well, that is a very unusual story,” an administrator from CAPS said to me on the phone. She was willing to pass the request along to her staff, and hoped it would lead to something. I thanked her, and then anxiously awaited her return phone call for days.
I got nothing.

But each time I went back to read the writings on the bathroom stall, something inside of me told me to keep trying.