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IPSR Intern Caleb Suggs Wins Second National Award

Like “winning a Pulitzer,” journalism professor says of Suggs’ Hearst win

The William Randolph Hearst Foundation has awarded Institute for Public Service Reporting intern Caleb Suggs a second national award.

Institute for Public Service Reporting intern Caleb Suggs has won his second national broadcast journalism award.

The San Francisco-based William Randolph Hearst Foundation awarded Suggs first place and a $10,000 cash prize in its annual year-end national collegiate journalism championships.

A University of Memphis senior double-majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Film & Video Production, Suggs qualified for the competition by defeating dozens of Hearst entrants from universities across the country this spring in an earlier national competition.

“I was literally shouting at my laptop when they announced that I got first place,” said Suggs, 22, who graduated in May and is currently enrolled in the U of M’s Crews Center for Entrepreneurship and ImagineU programs. He’s taken a job as a multimedia specialist at ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where, starting in August, he will help tell the organization’s story through audio, video, and animation.

“My family was right there with me and celebrated just as hard. I am more than excited and happy to win the Hearst Audio Championship. It’s a blessing and a real honor to accomplish something like this.”

Suggs won first place in the Audio Broadcast News Championship for his feature report on the late-stage pandemic revival of B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street. He beat out finalists from Arizona State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Southern California and the University of Nebraska.

Each of the competitors was given an assignment late last week to report and produce a two-and-a-half minute audio report on America’s post-pandemic resurgence.

Suggs’ report can be heard here.

Suggs advanced to this competition by winning an earlier national competition in March when he topped a field of 56 entrants from 37 universities competing for Hearst’s annual Audio News and Features prize.

He won then for his nearly four-minute radio feature report about college students coping with the pandemic.

Suggs wrote, reported and produced the report last fall in the studios of The Institute’s broadcast partner, WNKO-FM, which aired it in December to a local public radio audience.

That award came with a $3,000 cash prize and a matching grant to the University of Memphis.

Though other U of M students have placed before in the Hearst competition, it’s believed Suggs is the first student here to win first place, said Jan Watten, program director for the Hearst Journalism Awards.

U of M Department of Journalism and Strategic Media professor and chair David Arant confirmed Watten’s observation, calling Suggs’ win a major accomplishment.

“For college journalists winning a Hearst National Championship is like winning a Pulitzer,” Arant said. “Caleb is the first University of Memphis student to be named a Hearst National Champion. We are so proud of Caleb, who is so talented and deserving of this award.”

Written By

Marc Perrusquia is the director of the Institute for Public Service Reporting at the University of Memphis, where graduate students learn investigative and explanatory journalism skills working alongside professionals. He has won numerous state and national awards for government watchdog, social justice and political reporting.

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