Denali Keefe captured the Mark Finley Gold Pen Award in the University of Arizona School of Journalism's best beginning news writing contest for fall 2019.
Sunday Holland finished second and Jake Toole placed third. Thirteen students selected by their JOUR 205 instructors competed in the Nov. 20 contest.
Students had an hour to write a story after covering a news conference in the school's Marshall Building with Kristel Ann Foster, a Tucson Unified School District Governing Board member. Foster spoke about the contentious movement to modernize sex education in TUSD, to make the curriculum more inclusive around gender and consent.
Professors Susan Knight and Geoff Ellwand and adjunct instructors Brett Fera and Tom Beal judged the competition. Fera is also adviser of Arizona Sonora News.
"The event had great energy; the students were excited, eager," Knight said. "And overall, the students' questions in the Q&A were good. Some did a great job of backgrounding themselves on Foster and the sex-ed issues. And a few had done enough background to ask about political implications, a connection to students leaving TUSD for charter schools, and TUSD’s diversity. TUSD is now two-thirds Latino."
The contest is named for the late Mark Finley, a UA grad who was a journalist and assistant to the publisher of Hearst's Boston newspaper for 17 years.
The first-place winners will receive $1,250 in scholarship money, followed by $750 for the runner-ups and $500 for the third-place finisher.
The students will be honored at the School of Journalism’s Just Desserts event in May 2020 at the Arizona Historical Society.