Two UM journalism students rank high in prestigious Hearst competition – The Oxford Eagle
Two members of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media have made the Top 20 in the annual Hearst Journalism Awards.
Rabria Moore, who will be Ole Miss Senior this fall, and Billy Schuerman, who graduated from the school in 2021, were among the winners of the prestigious national competition, placing in the digital news/business tag team category.
Their project, examining water supply issues in the Taylor community of Lafayette County, was released in the spring 2021 semester. They worked on the package under the guidance of editor-advisor Ellen Meacham, professor assistant journalism assistant.
The project tied for 16th place in the Hearst competition with a project from Elon University, said Patricia Thompson, former director of the university’s S. Gale Denley Student Media Center. The top 5 winners in this category were students from Western Kentucky University, Syracuse University, University of North Carolina, and University of Oregon.
“We are always proud when our students are recognized for their exceptional work, but it is especially gratifying when that work exemplifies the fundamentals of journalism – giving voice to the voiceless and holding the powerful to account,” said Debora Wenger, Acting Dean of Journalism. school. “I know these two students will make a positive difference in the world for many years to come.”
Originally from Durant, Moore majored in journalism and political science. She will serve as editor of the Daily Mississippian for 2022-23.
“I was very happy to learn that I had received a Hearst Award for this project,” Moore said. “When I started this project, I didn’t expect to win any prizes. My main objective was to tell the story of a woman who fights for access to water and hopefully to draw attention to the issue of access to water, in particular in Mississippi.
“I am happy to receive the award, but I am certainly more proud to know that the story has reached a wider audience.”
Working on this project was different from others, she says.
“For months I was able to visit Ms. Ilean’s home to hear about and see the issues she was facing without access to community water,” Moore said. “I hope others, especially people in Mississippi, understand that not everyone has access to the same resources.
“Water is something we take for granted and don’t usually think about, but I hope people can appreciate the ‘little’ things we don’t have to figure out on our own.”
Moore said learning to listen was one of the things she took away from the project.
“So many times we think we know someone’s story or situation,” she explained. “I think listening gives people the ability to tell their stories without us injecting ourselves into those stories.”
Schuerman, from Houston, Texas, just completed his first year in the Masters in Visual Communication program at Ohio University. He spent winter break as a photographer and writer for a Colorado newspaper and did a photography internship that summer at Virginian-Pilot.
He said he was delighted to hear that their hard work was recognized in the competition.
“I’m more hopeful that this recognition will help provide a future for the community we talked about,” Schuerman said. “Rewards are secondary to the communities we serve.”
He said the project made sense.
“Before we were journalists, we were humans, and this is a human story,” Schuerman said. “It was not a project we could get into. We spent our time telling a meaningful story about something that really matters.
“I hope other students can take away that to tell the outline of the story, we really need to be dedicated to the people we serve.”
Schuerman’s advice to other journalists is to find the time to do important stories.
“Not everything you work on will come to fruition, but when you have the opportunity to really do something important, it’s important to take it head-on,” he said.