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School of Mass Communication alumna wins National Murrow Award

Loyola press release - June 18, 2012

Loyola University New Orleans School of Mass Communication alumna and The Lens reporter Jessica Williams ’11 was recently awarded a prestigious National Edward R. Murrow Award in the Online News Operation Audio Investigative Reporting category.

“I’m very honored and grateful to be recognized as a part of this award,” Williams said. “At this time two years ago, I was right out of school and looking for a job. Today, I am very fortunate to be a part of an organization like The Lens and able to work with veteran reporters telling compelling stories.”

Williams joined G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism fellow Bob Butler to document the struggle of Kisa Holmes, a 9th Ward homeowner who was trying to rebuild her Hurricane Katrina-ravaged home following the storm. Holmes, like many post-Katrina homeowners, felt pressure from her mortgage company to use the bulk of her insurance proceeds to pay off her loan, ultimately leaving Holmes with a piece of property that she fully owned, but couldn’t afford to live in or renovate.

According to Williams, it was a story six years in the making.

“Bob Butler had been working on the story ever since people started to return to New Orleans following Katrina, but after a while, the story stalled. That’s where I came in,” Williams said. “We knew that people had been pressured to settle with their banks, but many had moved on and didn’t want to talk about it anymore. So, I drove to the 9th Ward and went door to door to find somebody to talk about it on the record, which ended up being Kisa. Her story resonated with a lot of people who wanted to return home but couldn’t because of all the bureaucratic red tape created by FEMA and the Road Home program.”

The National Edward R. Murrow Awards, given by the Radio Television Digital News Association, have been honoring excellence in electronic journalism since 1971. Other notable journalists that have won the award include Katie Couric, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Ted Koppel.

For more information, contact Matt Lambert in Loyola’s Office of Public Affairs at 504-861-5448 or mlambert@loyno.edu.

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