Gabrielle L. Peterson (BSJ13) was named the first-place winner of the 2013 Walter S. and Syrena M. Howell Essay Competition. Samuel D. Block (BSJ13) was awarded second place. Peterson will receive $3,000 and Block $1,000 of the Howell Essay Competition's $4,000 annual prize.
The contest invites Medill students to write an essay analyzing propaganda use or distortion of the truth in journalism in 2,500 words or fewer.
Peterson's essay, "The Echo Chamber: Twitter Amplifies and Magnifies Unverified Information," tackles the entire Twitter-sphere; it asks how news values collide and the public suffers when the race to be first on Twitter supersedes accuracy. Using multiple examples, commentary from social media experts and even her own informal surveys, Peterson suggests how news media can adapt their practices and use Twitter to serve the truth and the public.
Block's essay, "The Health Care Ruling: Diagnosing Flaws in the Current Media Model," makes strong points about inaccuracies in significant news coverage due to the rapid cycle of today's news reporting. He explains the central issue extremely well and gives specific examples, such as the Supreme Court's decision regarding President Obama's health care initiative last June. The well-written essay focuses on positive, as well as negative, aspects of online media.
The judges of the 2013 contest were Medill faculty members Stephan Garnett, Loren Ghiglione and Patti Wolter.