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Release: Dec. 6, 2002

UI journalism students win national awards for feature writing

Two University of Iowa students have won national awards for collegiate journalism in a feature writing competition sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Chao Xiong, a senior from Des Moines, placed 10th and won a $500 scholarship for his article, "A Little Diversity on the Prairie," which was published July 28 in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, where he was a reporting intern in summer 2002. The story focused on the Hmong people in Walnut Grove, a town of 700 in southwestern Minnesota. The UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will receive a $500 matching grant for Xiong's effort. Last month, Xiong was named 2002 Reporter of the Year by the Associated Collegiate Press, an organization that promotes excellence in college journalism.

Lauren Smiley, a sophomore, from Marion, placed 15th with her story "Giving Sight for Sore Eyes," which was published April 2 in The Daily Iowan. The article is about the cornea transplant that Elinor Severson, a 73-year-old woman from Fort Dodge, underwent last spring at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

The combination of Xiong's and Smiley's awards gave the UI a fourth-place finish overall among the 64 colleges and universities whose students submitted entries.

Both Xiong and Smiley are recipients of The Daily Iowan scholarship, a four-year, in-state tuition scholarship for aspiring journalists who commit to working at the student newspaper. Xiong is currently The Daily Iowan's managing editor, and Smiley will return to the reporting staff in the spring semester after a one-semester hiatus.

Xiong and Smiley were competing against 115 other college journalists nationwide in this first Hearst writing competition of the year. The foundation sponsors six writing, three photojournalism, two radio broadcast news and two television broadcast news competitions each academic year, beginning in October and ending in April. The competition year culminates in June with the National Writing, Photojournalism and Broadcast News Championships, and is open to selected winning students from the monthly competitions who also receive additional awards.

The Hearst Journalism Awards Program is presented annually under the auspices of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (ASJMC) with full-funding by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. The program's mission is to encourage and support excellence in journalism and journalism education in America's colleges and universities. This is the 43rd year of competitions, in which more than $400,000 in scholarships and grants will be awarded to students and schools.