The 49th Annual National Hearst Journalism Awards Championship was the culmination of the 2008-2009 monthly competitions. 24 finalists with top scores in those competitions gathered in San Francisco to demonstrate their abilities in on-the-spot assignments and compete for additional scholarship awards of up to $5,000. 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 8 writing finalists interviewed actor/writer Peter Coyote. They produced a news story of the interview and a personality/profile about him. In addition, they researched and wrote an on-the-spot article about Golden Gate Park. The photo finalists were given three assignments: a photo story about “rituals," a single personal vision image of San Francisco architecture, and a "book cover" image showing the city's fabled cable cars. The radio and television finalists' assignment was to find a story about what economic recovery looks like in San Francisco. The judges received the completed articles, images, CDs and DVDs by the morning of June 6th for review. The winners were announced that evening during the awards ceremony at the California Academy of Sciences.