Profile Titled ‘Man Gone Wild’ Earns Junior Blake Ursch a Top 10 Win in the Hearst Journalism Awards Program

Hearst Journalism Award

Columbia, Mo. (April 18, 2012) — A personality/profile titled “Man Gone Wild,” published in Vox magazine, earned print and digital news junior Blake Ursch a top 10 placement in the 52nd annual William Randolph Hearst Foundation‘s Journalism Awards Program. There were 118 students from 65 universities who participated in this competition.

Hearst Journalism Award
Hearst Journalism Award
Blake Ursch
Blake Ursch

Ursch’s entry was an idea he pitched to Professor Jacqui Banaszynski for a profile assignment in his intermediate writing class. Ursch got wind of a local character named Bo Brown whom, with his “mountain cur” Shiva, runs First Earth, a back-to-nature wilderness survival camp. Brown teaches people how to live off the land, using what nature provides for food, medicine and self-defense. Ursch thought Brown would be a good story.

Banasznski agreed, adding, “but you’re going on one of his weekend workshops, right? And you’ll write about your own experiences, right?”

Ursch and photographer Sam Gause spent a manly-man weekend with Brown, Shiva and others last fall out in the Missouri wild. They made it happen with some borrowed camping equipment, a bit of embarrassment after getting lost, the willingness of Ursch to sacrifice his arm for an experiment with some itchy plant and – most important – a reporter’s openness to adventure.

“Blake not only came back with a terrific story, he made fire!” noted Banaszynski.

Bo Brown and Chase Moore
Bo Brown, founder of First Earth Wilderness School, and Chase Moore, a participant, put their primitive skills to use on Bo's property in the Lead Mine Conservation Area near the southwest Missouri town of Tunas. Building a fire is just one lesson Bo teaches his campers. Photo: Sam Gause.

Ursch received a certificate of merit for his eighth-place win. He will intern in the features department at the Kansas City Start this summer.

Judging the writing competition this year were Jennifer Sizemore, vice president/editor-in-chief, MSNBC.com and executive producer, NBC News; Ward Bushee, editor and executive vice president, The San Francisco Chronicle; and Marty Kaiser, editor and senior vice president, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Hearst Journalism Awards Program is conducted under the auspices of accredited schools of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication and fully funded and administered by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. It consists of five monthly writing competitions, two photojournalism competitions, three broadcast news competitions and four multimedia competitions, with championship finals in all divisions. The program awards up to $500,000 in scholarships and grants annually. A total of 106 undergraduate journalism programs at colleges and universities across the nation are eligible to participate.

Updated: August 15, 2019

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