SoCJ’s Lily McInerney Wins Top 10 in Hearst Journalism Competition

Lily McInerney, a senior journalism major with a multidisciplinary cultural analysis concentration, placed seventh in the nation in a recent Hearst Journalism Awards competition.

McInerney placed in the multimedia category for a story that she began working on in January 2023. Humanity behind History tells the story of a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor and how she came to terms with and shared her experiences. The piece goes beyond the term survivor and seeks to humanize subjects by explaining the interests and hobbies of those who suffered deeply. 

“Lily took a complicated and painful piece of history, examined it thoughtfully and looked into the future to explore how this history can be kept alive as survivors pass away,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the School of Communication and Journalism (SoCJ) and executive director of the Alda Center for Communicating Science. “I applaud her care in telling this story, and her curiosity in learning what can be done, and is already being done, to help others bear witness to a truly horrific chapter in human history.”

In addition to a long written piece, McInerney’s story incorporates video interviews with survivors, charts with survey data about Americans’ knowledge of the Holocaust, and archival and original photos. She also spoke with historians and other experts about how artificial intelligence and other technologies can help to keep survivors’ stories and experiences alive.

“Our students continue to place with top honors in this highly competitive national competition and it’s a testament to their hard work and dedication to quality journalism,” said George Giokas, the journalism instructor who handles Hearst Award nominations for the school and also the instructor of McInerney’s capstone course. “Lily’s story was a particularly hard one to tell because of the traumas and pain involved. An important story handled with sensitivity and professionalism.”

The Hearst Awards are open to all undergraduate journalism students enrolled in a program accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Stony Brook is one of two public universities in the state with an accredited journalism program. 

In recent years, SoCJ students have won more than two dozen prizes, distinguishing the school as one of the top-winning journalism programs in the country alongside programs from Arizona State and Syracuse University.

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