UO Alumni and Students Win National Awards

Ducks Earn Peabody Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and a Truman Scholarship in an Impressive April Haul.

Frontline’s League of Denial, a documentary about concussion problems in the NFL. AMC’s Breaking Bad. Good Morning America’s coverage of Supertyphoon Yolanda. Aaron Blanton ’13 and Samantha Stendal’s “A Needed Response.”

All are among the 2014 recipients of the Peabody Awards for “Stories that matter.” But who are Samantha Stendal and Aaron Blanton ‘13, and how did they come to be mentioned alongside the likes of Robin Roberts and Walter White? And what is “A Needed Response?”

Samantha Stendal (Photo: Tim Christie)

Stendal, a junior at the University of Oregon, and Blanton, a 2013 graduate from the UO’s College of Arts and Sciences, created “A Needed Response” in, well, response, to the Steubenville rape case, where a high school student in Steubenville, Ohio, was raped by a number of her peers, several of whom photographed the act and bragged about it on social media. Two football players were convicted of the rape, while five people—including the school superintendent and a volunteer assistant football coach—were indicted on a number of charges in connection to the case, ranging from obstruction of justice to contributing to the delinquency of a child.

Stendal and Blanton created the 25-second-long video “A Needed Response” in March 2013 and posted it to YouTube, along with the note “To the Steubenville rapists...or any rapists out there,” as a brief lesson in how men should treat women. The video went viral, and at the time of writing had more than 5.5 million views.

The Peabody board took notice, and not only named “A Needed Response” the first viral video to ever win a Peabody Award when the awards were announced on April 2, but praised it in their press release lede, saying the video “succinctly criticizes rape culture and champions r-e-s-p-e-c-t for women.”

Two weeks after Stendal and Blanton won their Peabody Awards, two recent graduates from the school of journalism took home Pulitzer Prizes for their work.

Michael Ciaglo (Photo: Jake Swankto)

Photojournalist Michael Ciaglo ’12, whose work includes covering the dismantling of the world’s discarded electronics in Accra, Ghana, won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for his work with the Colorado Springs Gazette. Ciaglo was the photographer on the Gazette’s Pulitzer-winning series “Other than Honorable,” about the “increasing number of soldiers, including wounded combat veterans… being kicked out of the service for misconduct, often with no benefits, as the Army downsizes after a decade of war.”

Nora Simon ‘11, former editor in chief of the Daily Emerald, won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing for her work on the Oregonian’s series about the state’s Public Employee Retirement System. The work done by Simon and the Oregonian was hailed by the Pulitzer board for its “lucid editorials that explain the urgent but complex issue of rising pension costs, notably engaging readers and driving home the link between necessary solutions and their impact on everyday lives.”

Andrew Lubash (Photo: Tim Christie)

Ciaglo and Simon’s wins on April 14 sparked a busy week at the UO, as two days later, junior Andrew Lubash learned he was the recipient of a prestigious Truman Scholarship.

Truman Scholarships, named for former US President Harry S. Truman, are awarded each year to students who are “change agents” likely to help shape public policy, and the scholarship helps them attend graduate school. Lubash, a UO Presidential Scholar and a student in the Clark Honors College studying political science and economics, is considering pursuing a joint degree in law and public policy at Georgetown University. The openly gay Lubash works on issues involving LGBT rights, and has advised Oregon senator Mark Hass on the subject.

Lubash is the eighth Duck to receive a Truman Scholarship, while Stendal and Blanton are the second and third Peabody Award winners, and Ciaglo and Simon are the 12th and 13th Pulitzer Prize winners from the UO.