Stephanie Sierra Wins First Place Hearst Award for Broadcast Features

Stephanie Sierra, BJ '16

Her Top Story Was Selected from 98 Entrants from 56 Schools

Columbia, Mo. (Feb. 3, 2017) — Missouri School of Journalism alumna Stephanie Sierra earned first place and a $2,600 award in the television broadcast features competition at the 2016-17 Hearst Journalism Awards Program. Her top entry was produced while studying investigative and data reporting as a radio-television journalism student. Sierra’s story was selected from 98 entrants from 56 colleges and universities in the U.S. The School receives a matching grant.

Stephanie Sierra, BJ '16
First-place Hearst winner Stephanie Sierra, BJ ’16, now works for ABC-affiliate KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a weekday reporter and weekend anchor.

Sierra, BJ ’16, was part of the KOMU Target 8 investigative team while a student. The station is the only university-owned commercial TV station in the U.S. that uses its newsroom as a working lab for students. She now works for ABC-affiliate KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a weekday reporter and weekend anchor.

Assistant Professor Jamie Greber taught Sierra in courses dealing with watchdog and data journalism.

“Stephanie is a great example of an enterprising reporter working early in her career to effect change in the world,” Greber said. “In both of the stories submitted for this award, Stephanie identified systemic issues through data, door-knocking and difficult interviews, and she brought those issues to light. She is proof that student journalists can do big things with a lot of dedication.”

Sierra’s Hearst entry included two KOMU Target 8 investigations.

  • Multiple Sex Offenders Living Too Close to Columbia Schools: Sierra mapped out where sex offenders were living. She figured out that at least 10 offenders were registered as living within 1,000 feet of schools, which is illegal. She confronted law enforcement on why this was happening. The story aired May 9, 2016.
  • Treatment of Military Sexual Trauma Below Average in Columbia: Sierra used data and anecdotal evidence about how military veterans are (or are not) being treated in Missouri (and Columbia) for a very specific type of trauma: military sexual trauma. She talked to a veteran who suffered terrible assaults at the hands of his fellow soldiers and how that trauma impacted him for life. She then asked the Veterans Administration why treatment rates are so low for these cases. The story aired Feb. 4, 2016.

The judges, all award-winning broadcast professionals, are: Harvey Nagler, recently retired vice president, radio, CBS News, New York; Lloyd Siegel, former vice president of news partnerships, NBC News, New York; and Fred Young, retired senior vice president of news, Hearst Television Inc., Yardley, Pennsylvania.

The 57th annual Hearst Journalism Awards Program is held in 106 member universities of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication with accredited undergraduate journalism programs. The program offers awards totaling up to $500,000.

Updated: August 15, 2019

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