Student wins national Public Media Journalists Association Award

BLM march in Champaign 2020
Students and community members participate in a Black Lives Matter march in Fall 2020.
Photo: Farrah Anderson (journalism student) / for Illinois Newsroom


In her first week as a freshman, Farrah Anderson covered a Black Lives Matter protest organized by University of Illinois athletes. She marched through the streets of Champaign with her friend, observing both the campus and Champaign-Urbana community's collective moment of racial reckoning. 

“I learned to get up close and really put myself out there to capture the moment. It felt awkward at first to photograph sources filled with emotion over the moment up close, but it made for a more personal story in the end,” recalled Anderson, now a sophomore in journalism. 

Her Introduction to Journalism instructor, Chris Evans, worked directly with her to teach her how to voice and edit the piece, which then aired on Illinois Public Media.

Anderson’s coverage earned her a 2021 Public Media Journalists Association Award—First Place for Student Spot News. PMJA recognizes the best work in public media journalism from across the country. Hear/read Anderson’s story.

“It was actually her first professional audio story and the first story to come out of the IPM student newsroom, which is now (officially) JOUR 280: IPM Radio Practicum,” said Evans, clinical assistant professor of journalism.

The following semester, Anderson became an intern at IPM.

“I'll never forget that demonstration because it taught me to get out onto the streets and report on what was happening and how a large, national conversation can really affect the people of your community,” Anderson said.

IPM, a not-for-profit public media service of the College of Media, won a total of four PMJA Awards for Illinois Newsroom reporting during 2020. 

Learn about the origins of the IPM student newsroom, which will be a place for student journalists to work side by side with media professionals in all facets of public media, starting in Fall 2021.