The 44th Annual National Hearst Journalism Awards Championship was the culmination of the 2003-2004 monthly competitions. 24 finalists with top scores in those competitions were brought to San Francisco to demonstrate their abilities in on-the-spot assignments and compete for additional scholarship awards. The writing, photojournalism, radio broadcast and television broadcast finalists, along with program judges, Journalism Deans, and special guests convened the first week of June for this unique event.
The writing finalists interviewed The President of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, Matt Gonzalez, and produced a news story and a personality/profile about their subject. In addition, they researched and wrote and on-the-spot article about the city's colorful Mission District. The photo finalists were given five assignments: three to five images of the Oakland A's ballgame, three to five images of the Mission District, one image about life underground, one image of San Francisco before 8 a.m. (with the time showing), and a "postcard with an edge." The radio finalists were assigned two stories: Bay area gas prices and the anti-panhandling law (proposition M). The television finalists were also assigned two stories: Gay marriage and the public arts program featuring customized fiberglass hearts.
The judges received the completed articles, images, and tapes by the morning of June 5th for review. The winners were announced that evening at the awards ceremony.