Alumnus Wins Hearst National Championship First-Place Award

Joe Freihofer, an MSU alumnus with dual degrees in Journalism and Spanish, recently received first place in the National Television Broadcast News Category of the Hearst National Championship for his video, Sandy Sings On, which tells the story of a Nashville business owner whose store was destroyed during the 2nd Avenue Christmas day bombing in 2020.

The award-winning video is the epitome of how communities come together to bounce back from tragedy, as was the case for Sandy Lee when she was gifted money to rebuild her boutique.

For the Hearst National Championship competition, participants were given two days to shoot, edit, and finalize their projects, and as a newcomer to Nashville, Freihofer scrambled to find a story. Luckily, an intern at his job knew Lee, and the story came alive.

After spending an entire day interviewing Lee, shooting video on the 2nd Avenue bombing site, and editing until the early hours of the morning, Freihofer submitted his project, which earned him a $10,000 first-place prize.

“Winning this award has been nothing short of life changing for me,” Freihofer said. “It goes such a long way being bold and getting out of your comfort zone to dig deep and unpack a story that can be so powerful in such a short amount of time.”  

I love storytelling, talking with people, creating awareness, and making people care, and coming to MSU was by far the best decision I’ve ever made. From learning how to be comfortable in front of a camera to the art of interviewing, my time at MSU has forged me into the ultimate storyteller.

Joe Freihofer

Storytelling is a skill that comes naturally to Freihofer, and his time at MSU helped him sharpen it. Between the School of Journalism’s immersive newsroom, supportive faculty, and the opportunity to study abroad in Spain, MSU has been a foothold for Freihofer’s success. 

“I love storytelling, talking with people, creating awareness, and making people care,” Freihofer said, “and coming to MSU was by far the best decision I’ve ever made. From learning how to be comfortable in front of a camera to the art of interviewing, my time at MSU has forged me into the ultimate storyteller.” 

Now, thanks to the award money, Freihofer will expand upon his bilingual storytelling skills by pursuing a master’s degree at Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona School of Management in Barcelona, Spain, starting this October.   

Bilingual storytelling has been a goal for Freihofer since he studied abroad in Spain during summer 2019, where he was able to immerse himself in Spanish culture for nine weeks. This trip also turned out to be the catalyst for his interest in soccer. 

Joe Freihofer reporting for the Big Ten Network during his time at MSU.

As a kid, Freihofer would review sports highlights over FaceTime with a friend and, from there, his dream of a career in sports broadcasting bloomed. However, it wasn’t until he studied abroad that he narrowed his focus to soccer.  

“Soccer is huge in Spain, and it was crazy to me to see how much the sport meant to the community,” Freihofer said. “Ever since then, I’ve been trying to use the language and get back to that powerful people-centered connection you get from it.”

Freihofer explored this connection further as a Videographer and Spanish Content Producer for FC Tulsa, where he worked the summer of 2020. This experience opened his eyes to the diversity within the sport and enticed him to continue bilingual storytelling.   

Now, he is wrapping up his time as a Videographer for Nashville SC, a Major League Soccer team. Through this experience, he has connected with the Spanish-speaking community in Nashville and solidified his presence as a bilingual storyteller in broadcast journalism.  

Written by Annie Dubois

Photo credit: Joe Freihofer