Mary Khan (’17 journalism and mass communication, international studies) is the winner of the 2017 Hugh S. Sidey Scholarship in Print Journalism. Khan will receive a $5,000 prize, as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in the fall.
The scholarship is an annual award that was established in 2006 at Iowa State University, Sidey’s alma mater, by the White House Historical Association and Mr. David M. Rubenstein. One student majoring in journalism and mass communication at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication is selected by a panel of judges each year.
“The Hugh S. Sidey Scholarship is one of our most prestigious awards for print journalism and Mary Khan has written a wonderful piece highlighting the challenges journalism is facing today,” said Michael Dahlstrom, associate director and associate professor at the Greenlee School. “The award is well-deserved and we are proud of her.”
In her essay, “Make Journalism Great Again,” the Parkersburg, Iowa, native reflected on how Sidey stayed connected to his hometown of Greenfield, Iowa – and the concerns of Americans outside the world of politics – through nearly 50 years chronicling 10 presidents for Time magazine. By striving to be fair, informative and descriptive, he earned the trust of both his sources and readers, she said.
“After the most recent presidential election, an election where journalists fumbled in their coverage of the candidates, struggled to understand the voters and attempted and failed to predict the outcome, we need more journalists like Sidey,” Khan wrote in her essay.
“Journalists should not be trying to answer the question ‘Who will win?’” she continued. “Instead they should present the information voters need to decide for themselves who should win.”
As part of her international studies major, Khan has studied Arabic and taught English in Amman, Jordan, through a service learning program. She dreams of reporting on international news and conflict for public media.
“I want to be moving all the time, and I really like learning,” said Khan, who’s also minoring in sociology, digital media and political science. “[Learning] keeps me entertained. It keeps me really passionate about what I’m doing.”
Closer to home, she has gained professional experience as a reporting intern and operations assistant for Iowa Public Radio and as a production assistant for Iowa Public Television. She also has served as both a news anchor at ISUtv and an ISU community adviser.
During her trip to Washington, Khan will tour newsrooms and other sites with the White House Historical Association. Last year’s winner connected with journalists and visited National Public Radio, Politico, the Washington Post, the set of NBC’s “Meet the Press” and several other news organizations.
“It’s an incredible opportunity that the school offers … one of the premiere opportunities,” Khan said.