COLLEGE PARK (5/8/19) — Two University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism students and an adjunct faculty member are the first winners of three awards established in memory of Capital Gazette journalists Gerald Fischman, John McNamara and Rob Hiaasen.

Keombré McLaughlin won the Gerald Fischman Award for News Commentary and Criticism, Andy Kostka won the John McNamara Sports Writing Award and David Lightman (‘71) won the Rob Hiaasen Adjunct Faculty Award.

Fischman (‘79) and McNamara (‘83) were Merrill College and Diamondback alumni and Hiaasen was a member of the college’s adjunct faculty. They were among the five people killed in a shooting at their newspaper’s Annapolis office last summer.

Wendi Winters and Rebecca Smith also lost their lives in the attack.

Merrill College established the awards this past fall to recognize members of the college community who embodied the talents and interests that Fischman, McNamara and Hiaasen were known for.

Winners will be recognized at the college’s commencement ceremony on May 23.

“We are very proud of our winners and honored to make these awards in memory of three wonderful journalists and Terps,” Merrill College Dean Lucy A. Dalglish said.

McLaughlin, a sophomore journalism major, won for “Jonathan Tobash is more than a homicide number in Baltimore,” an opinion piece published by The Baltimore Sun.

In the piece, McLaughlin eulogizes a high school classmate, Tobash, who at age 19 became the 335th person killed in Baltimore in 2018. McLaughlin, a Baltimore resident, calls on her fellow citizens to honor Tobash’s memory.

“I am honored to receive the award, and I am grateful for everyone that helped me in the process of composing the article,” McLaughlin said.

Kostka, a junior journalism major, won for a portfolio of stories about the Terps football program published by The Diamondback, an independent student-run news organization at this university.

The stories include a news feature about football donors who stood by coach DJ Durkin following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, a game story recapping the team’s failed upset bid against ninth-ranked Ohio State and a profile of linebacker Tre Watson, an Illinois transfer student who became an integral part of the Maryland defense.

“It is humbling to receive an award named in John McNamara’s honor,” Kostka said. “I hope to follow his example of excellence and service as I pursue my career.”  

Lightman, who won the Hiaasen Award, is the chief congressional correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers. He has taught advanced news reporting and writing at Merrill College for more than two decades.

He was selected by the dean for displaying excellence in teaching and mentorship of students.

“I’m honored and humbled to receive this award,” Lightman said. “Rob and I worked together teaching the advanced news reporting class. He was a real pro, a journalist with the highest standards and both the patience and toughness that being a top-notch editor, reporter — and teacher — demands.

“I thank the Merrill College for selecting me to honor the memory of Rob, Gerald Fischman and John McNamara.”

For more information, contact:
Alexander A. Pyles