Verdugo, Gomez win top-10 Hearst awards

May 10, 2022
Elvia Verdugo (left) and Gloria Gomez

Elvia Verdugo (left) and Gloria Gomez, award winners in Hearst writing contest

Two students from the University of Arizona School of Journalism placed among the top writing winners in the 2021-2022 Hearst Journalism Awards Program.

Elvia Verdugo, a fall 2021 graduate, captured third in the personality/profile writing competition among 114 entries from 63 universities nationwide. She received $1,500 and the school received a matching $1,500 grant.

Gloria Gomez, who will graduate on May 13, took ninth in the investigative reporting competition among 67 entries from 41 universities.

Verdugo published her story, “Creating community through the power of food,” in El Inde, the school's online news site. She’s now a digital features reporter at This is Tucson for the Arizona Daily Star.

Gomez published her entry, “No evidence of Ducey claim that victims are being charged $800 for rape kits,” in the Arizona Mirror and El Inde, and published a follow-up story. As the school’s Don Bolles Fellow, she covered the state Legislature in Phoenix while being mentored by editors at the Mirror under a new partnership.

As part of Prof. Ruxandra Guidi's capstone class, Verdugo wrote about a Bronx, New York, woman who hosts community cooking classes and events “to help teach low-income families about the benefits of cooking and eating real, healthy food, challenging the ‘food giant’ companies, and raising awareness about food accessibility in her community.”

“I’m very proud of this piece and so grateful for this award,” Verdugo said on social media.

Gomez found that almost every Arizona county disputed Gov. Doug Ducey's claim that facilities in some Arizona counties were charging victims to process their rape kits, and those advancing the claim refused to reveal where it was happening. She and the Mirror contacted all 15 county attorney’s offices in the state, and of the 14 that responded, all said they’d never heard of rape victims being charged fees in their counties.

"Gloria has done incredible work, broken several stories and been a pleasure to work with," wrote Jim Small, Arizona Mirror editor. 

Gomez wrote nearly  70 stories for the Mirror, and they were republished in El Inde.

Judging the personality/profile and investigative reporting competitions were Larry Kramer, retired President and Publisher, USA Today; Maria Reeve, Editor-in-Chief, The Houston Chronicle; and David Zeeck, retired President and Publisher, The (Tacoma, Washington) News Tribune. The other writing competitions were features, explanatory reporting and sports reporting.

The Hearst Journalism Awards Program, now in its 62nd year, also included two photojournalism, one audio, two television, and four multimedia competitions. The program offered up to $700,000 in scholarships, matching grants and stipends in 2020-21. There are 103 universities of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication with accredited undergraduate journalism programs that are eligible to participate in the Hearst monthly competitions.

This story includes information from two Hearst news releases.