Hannah Denham ’20 Wins National Journalism Award The recent graduate of Washington and Lee University won a combined scholarship of $8,500 for her second-place win and article of the year award in the 60th Annual Hearst National Writing Championship.
Hannah Denham ’20, a recent graduate of Washington and Lee University, has won second place overall and article of the year in the 60th Annual Hearst National Writing Championship, an awards program for college journalists.
Denham, a native of Spanish Fort, Alabama, who earned a degree in journalism with a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at W&L, will receive a combined scholarship of $8,500 — $7,500 for the second-place win and $1,000 for article of the year.
“I’m so honored and grateful for everything I learned through my experience with the Hearst competition and to enter the ranks of other incredible reporters,” Denham said. “The judges told me that I put Washington and Lee University on the map for Hearst, which is such a privilege to be able to do.”
In December 2019, Denham won first place for college feature writing in the Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program, which came with a $3,000 scholarship and qualified her to participate in the national championship. That award was for an article she wrote during her internship at The Washington Post last summer. The piece, “A Texas-size mart’s road to fame,” detailed the growth and popularity of a Texas chain of convenience stores called Buc-ee’s.
The national championship was planned to take place in Houston, Texas, this month, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the organization to hold a virtual competition instead. The finalists were introduced to judges over video conference, received their writing assignments in the same manner, and wrote their articles at home. The three competition assignments were a profile of Harris County, Texas, judge Lina Hidalgo, a news story based on a video conference interview with Hidalgo, and a spot article about the impact of the pandemic on some aspect of arts and entertainment in the writer’s community.
Denham’s news article about the judge was titled “Judge Hidalgo defends right to protest, but fears resurgence in COVID-19 cases.” For the spot article, she focused on W&L University Photographer Kevin Remington’s front porch project, for which he took portraits of Lexington families on their front porches, sold the photos and donated a percentage of the proceeds to Rockbridge Area Relief Association. The article of the year award was for her Buc-ee’s piece.
“I feel like my experience in covering Rockbridge County for the Rockbridge Report for my beat reporting class positioned me well to write about Harris County, Texas, and Lexington in just a few short days,” Denham said. “Thank you to the sources who were gracious enough to return my frantic phone calls, and to Professor Pam Luecke, who believed in my work enough to submit it for a Hearst award in the first place.”
Denham is currently doing another summer internship on The Washington Post business and financial desk.
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