By Jazzlyn Johnson

University of Montana School of Journalism students have won top awards in two national journalism award competitions.

Matt Neuman. Photo by Zach Meyer.

Three students placed in the top 10 of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Hearst Journalism Awards Program and two students placed in the top five of the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts competition. Both programs give scholarships to award winners.

Montana Kaimin editor-in-chief Matt Neuman, from Glens Falls, New York, won third place in the Hearst Journalism Awards Program in enterprise reporting for his story “In the Red: How UM dining’s upscale restaurant poured nearly $1 million down the drain.”

“While sometimes it is hard to write stories about my own university, I think it’s important to shine a light on issues so they can be fixed,” Neuman said. “I appreciate all of the university officials who let me use this place as a testing ground for real-world reporting.”

Rikki Devlin on assignment last spring while working on her award-winning piece, “The Person not the Crime: The Person not the Crime.” Instagram photo by fellow student LJ Dawson. Click in to see the full post.

UM School of Journalism 2018 graduate Rikki Devlin, of Sacramento, California, took fifth place in the multimedia category of the Hearst awards for her multimedia work last spring for the Native News project. See her piece, “The Person not the Crime: One woman’s journey to healing” here: “Beyond Bars: Flathead Public Defenders Provide Lasting Solutions to Incarceration.

Meanwhile, journalism student Eli Imadali from Chandler, Arizona won sixth place in the Hearst Journalism Awards Program for his radio stories for the college radio station KBGA. Although Imadali is primarily a photojournalist, he said audio is another layer to add to effectively tell immersive stories. One of the stories he submitted was about Imagine Nation Brewing’s beer celebrating Missoula’s refugees and the other was about keeping kosher in Missoula.

Imadali gravitated to the “Kosher in Missoula” story after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 dead.

Eli Imadali. Courtesy Photo.

“Looking back at it, this story and one other story were my ways of dealing with it — getting back in touch with some of my Jewish roots that I haven’t thought about in a while,” Imadali said.

The Hearst Journalism Awards are open to undergraduate students at accredited journalism programs. Neuman and Imadali competed with students from 104 universities.

Halisia Hubbard, a senior journalism and fine arts double major from Big Fork, Montana won third place in the Broadcast Education Association competition for radio feature reporting for her piece, “How Willard Became Willard,” part of a semester-long podcast project that covered Missoula’s alternative high school. She said it was encouraging when she heard she won the award because she had been working very hard to find her journalistic voice.

Halisia Hubbard. Portrait from the Montana Journalism Abroad Korea project.

“I owe a huge thanks to Jule Banville who has been my biggest cheerleader in the J-School and has stuck her neck out for me many, many times,” Hubbard said.

In addition to her Hearst win, Rikki Devlin also won third place in the BEA competition for radio hard news reporting for her story, “Missing Native Women.” Devlin said Ivy McDonald, an activist for the movement to stop the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis, was her inspiration for the story, as well as UM School of Journalism’s capstone class Native News.

“Native News gave me a platform to meet the people involved and the proper experience to tell this story and tell it respectfully,” Devlin said.

Devlin is now working at IDEO, a global design company in San Francisco.

The BEA’s Festival of Media Arts competition brings in more than 1,000 entries each year from more than 300 schools, according to the organization.

Jazzlyn “Jazzie” Johnson is a third-year journalism student at UM. Originally from Ohio, she moved to Missoula for UM’s School of Journalism. Johnson hopes to either continue education after her spring 2020 graduation or write for a publication covering racial justice and environmental justice.

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