Kentucky Kernel editor-in-chief Natalie Parks recently received the Jon Fleischaker Freedom of Information Award from the Associated Press for Student Publications. She was presented the FOI Award by Adam Yeomans for a series of stories involving the University of Kentucky and Open Records.
And she also received the Journalist of the Year Award for Student Publications in the Kentucky Press Association news contest. She garnered the largest number of points for first, second and third places in the contest and thus was named Journalist of the Year for college publications.
Recently, Natalie placed fourth in the Hearst Sports Writing Competition of the 2020-2021 Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program. In addition to being recognized among top journalists in the nation, Parks has received a $1,000 scholarship.
In a story titled “Breaking down the UK cheerleading hazing investigation,” Parks investigated the 2020 UK cheerleading probe that resulted in termination of the cheerleading coaches. Her story discussed UK’s decision to turn management of the cheerleading program over to the UK Athletics Department and analyzed the reports in question.
Although honored to win a Hearst Award, Parks says that she wants Kernelites’ work to be appreciated by the community. “Awards are announced once or twice a year, but we put in the work day in and day out,” Parks said. “I would much rather know that the Kernel makes a difference to our community than I would win any award.”
The Hearst Journalism Awards Program was founded as a way to support and assist journalism education at the collegiate level. The program awards scholarships to students with outstanding performance in divisions including writing, photojournalism, audio, television, and multimedia competitions. To enter any competition hosted by the Hearst Awards, students must be involved in campus media and must have published articles, photographs or newscasts that can be submitted.