Owen Ziliak, BJ ’24, wins second place at Hearst National Photojournalism Championship

Owen Ziliak

Owen Ziliak photographs a beehive at the REAP Climate Center in Alameda, California, during his Hearst National Photojournalism Championship assignment.

By Nate Brown

Columbia, Mo. (June 17, 2024) — Recent Missouri School of Journalism graduate Owen Ziliak has won second place in the 2023-2024 Hearst National Photojournalism Championship, which was held June 1-6 in San Francisco.

Owen Ziliak and Dean David Kurpius
Owen Ziliak and Dean David Kurpius

“The experience at the Hearst national championships was one I’ll never forget,” said Ziliak, who also won a special award for Best Portfolio. “It was an honor to get to represent Missouri and use the skills I’d learned over the last four years at the school to earn second place.”

During his time at the School, Ziliak was an award-winning staff photographer at the Columbia Missourian, an intern at the Chicago Sun-Times and a participating photographer at the 75th Missouri Photo Workshop in Sedalia, Missouri.

“I can’t thank Jackie Bell and Brian Kratzer enough for their guidance that led me to this point,” said Ziliak, singling out two of his professors, “as well as every Mizzou journalist I ever worked with for inspiring me and pushing me to be a better journalist every day.”

Ziliak earned $8,500 in scholarships for his week in San Francisco: $7,500 for his second-place finish and $1,000 for Best Portfolio.

Second place Hearst National Photojournalism Championship certificates awarded to Owen Ziliak

The Chicago native advanced to Hearst nationals earlier this year after winning first place in Photojournalism I: News and Features, one of a series of monthly radio, photojournalism, television, multimedia and writing competitions conducted by Hearst Journalism Awards.

J-School students who finished in the Top 5 in monthly Hearst competitions included:

  • Aryana Hadjimohammadi, fourth place, Writing: Personality/Profile, $1,000 scholarship.
  • Katie Kriz, fourth place, Multimedia I: Narrative Video Storytelling, $1,000 scholarship.
  • John Murphy, third place, Television II: News, $1,500 scholarship.
  • Jackson Valenti, fourth place, Television I: Features, $1,000 scholarship.
  • Owen Ziliak, first place, Photojournalism I: News and Features, $3,000 scholarship.

Ziliak graduated summa cum laude from the School in May, majoring in photojournalism and minoring in political science and religious studies. He’s now a Pulliam Fellow on the Arizona Republic’s visuals staff.

Owen’s gallery

During his Hearst assignment, Owen Ziliak spent four days at the REAP Climate Center in Alameda, California, where he spoke with and photographed REAP volunteers and California Climate Action Corps fellows. His assignment, or “prompt,” from Hearst: Gen Z issues. Ziliak selected loneliness and weaved it into his climate story.

California Climate Action Corps fellow Sophia Strena sprays herself with sunscreen before going out on Tuesday, June 4, 2024, at REAP Climate Center in Alameda, California.


California Climate Action Corps fellow Lily Garcia-Daly, hanging from a metal beam, grabs Sophia Strena’s hat off her head with her feet during the fellow’s lunch break on Sunday, June 2, 2024, at REAP Climate Center in Alameda, California.


CCAC fellow Sophia Strena and volunteer Leia O’Dell, both from the Bay Area, talk about aqueducts in Los Angeles while weeding foxtails from the REAP Climate Center patio on Sunday, June 2, 2024, in Alameda, California.


Updated: June 18, 2024

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