Two Earn Recognition Among Nation's Top 20 Student Journalists

Media and Journalism Student, Alumna Place in Hearst Competition for Television News

A Kent State student and alumnus from the School of Media and Journalism placed among the top 20 student journalists in the Hearst Journalism Awards’ Television News Competition.

Jiovanni Lieggi, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in journalism in fall 2020, and Connor Steffen, a junior journalism major, placed 18th and 19th, respectively, in the national competition.

The Hearst Journalism Awards are known as the “Pulitzer Prize of collegiate journalism.”

“It’s definitely a huge honor to be recognized by an awards program that’s known as the Pulitzer Prizes of collegiate journalism,” says Steffen, who is currently serving as news director of Kent State’s independent television station, TV2. “Placing in such a prestigious competition kind of reaffirms to me that I am in the right major and that my hard work is not going unnoticed.”

Steffen is being recognized for two stories about national issues — localized for the Kent State community — which he worked on for TV2:

“For both stories, I really enjoyed taking a somewhat complex issue (whether it be public health or politics related) and simplifying it for viewers,” Steffen said. “It's fun to take a story that might not be interesting to college students and try to tell it in a compelling way so that it is.”

Steffen first got involved with Student Media during his freshman year at Kent State, serving as an anchor, reporter, producer and executive producer before becoming news director.

“Kent State Student Media gave me the biggest head start as a freshman journalism student. I’ve been working in TV2 for over three years now and can’t say enough about the experience and how well it’s prepared me for my future career,” he said. “Our student newsroom runs nearly identical to how a professional newsroom runs, which gives us student journalists a huge advantage during our collegiate careers. I owe student media all the credit for getting me internships, awards and more.”

For alumnus Lieggi, this is his second time placing in this competition. He currently works as a multimedia journalist for KLFY in Lafayette, Louisiana, covering criminal justice and courts. He started working for KLFY while finishing his undergraduate studies in summer and fall 2020 and is now attending graduate school with Arizona State University.  

Lieggi worked on the two stories he is being recognized for while he was finishing up his Kent State studies:

“Since working here, I reported on two major hurricanes, ... dozens of shootings, a police chief who was arrested and gang violence,” Lieggi says. “Kent State’s professors and program have prepared me for the work I’m currently doing. (Assistant Professor) Gretchen Hoak and (Associate Professor) David Foster’s classes taught me to push for more than just enough.”

Steffen echoed Lieggi’s praise of Kent State Media and Journalism professors.

“Our two student media advisors (Associate Professor) Sue Zake and (Assistant Professor) Hoak have had a huge impact on my experience and success in collegiate journalism,” Steffen said. “They’re on-call 24/7 (literally — sometimes there’s breaking news in the middle of the night). I’m really lucky to work with and learn from people who have such a strong passion for journalism. It’s the kind of thing that helps grow my passion as well.”

Earlier this year, senior Gianna DaPra placed among the nation’s top 10 in the Hearst Competition’s Television Features category.

To learn more about national recognition earned by Kent State School of Media and Journalism students and organizations, visit our Awards and Accolades page.

POSTED: Monday, April 5, 2021 - 1:18pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 5, 2021 - 1:18pm