Senior Emily Hood Earns National Recognition After Four Years in Journalism


Credit to Kaili Martin

By Sophie Carite

A zoom call wasn’t how she expected to hear the news. The Journalism Education Associations’ national journalist of the year was supposed to be announced at a spring journalism conference in Nashville, one that Senior Emily Hood was supposed to attend. But due to COVID-19, the convention was cancelled and the award announcements were made on a facebook live. 

So Hood, seated next to her mother on the couch, sat on a zoom call with a handful of friends, family and FHN faculty anxiously awaiting the big moment. Tension and excitement grew as the name of each runner up was called until finally the big moment came. 

“Congratulations to our 2020 high school journalist of the year Emily Hood of Missouri”

Hoods journey to this point started nearly four years ago when she joined the video staff in the second half of her freshman year. She quickly fell in love with the publications room and with telling stories through video. It was this year that she began making ‘The Hood Report’, a weekly news show that Hood continued to make all through her time in the journalism program.

“When she started she had a good idea of what she wanted to do and she set goals for herself and she just worked to meet those goals and then set new ones,” Advisor Aaron Manfull said. 

Hood went on to become an editor her sophomore year, and was later named Executive Producer for her junior and senior years. Over the next couple years Hood improved her video storytelling skills, but she also took the initiative to learn a few different ways of doing journalism. After taking note of her ambition during Hoods junior year, Manfull approached her about putting together a portfolio to enter the journalist of the year competition. 

The competition’s rubrik for the submitted portfolio follows JEA’s eight guidelines for journalism education. So for months Hood worked alongside Manfull to build a portfolio showcasing the work she had done in different areas. Some she was already passionate about, like finding a way to teach news literacy in high school. But for other areas, like writing for photography, Hood branched out to learn new things for the competition.  

“The goal with this competition and the goal that I tried for with it is to make you a well rounded journalist, which is so important if you want to go into journalism,” Hood said. “And so through this competition I was able to try out a lot of things that I might not have looked into or wanted to do to try and fit some of that stuff onto the site.” 

After submitting her portfolio, Hood was first named Missouri’s journalist of the year before being entered into the national competition. She was very honored by that award, and then again when she placed first nationally. 

“I think the award is a nice testament to the hard work she did on staff for three and a half years,” Manfull said. “She never had a down tick in her work or her effort. She continually worked hard not just for herself but for the other people in the room.” 

Despite her own hard work, Hood is the first to acknowledge that the award wouldn’t have been possible without the support of her advisors and peers. 

“I really don’t feel like it’s just an award for me,” Hood said. “I feel like it’s an award for the room because there are so many people who are so amazing and helpful and who work so hard in that room and who have really helped me.”